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Open access

David Oxborough, Saqib Ghani, Allan Harkness, Guy Lloyd, William Moody, Liam Ring, Julie Sandoval, Roxy Senior, Nabeel Sheikh, Martin Stout, Victor Utomi, James Willis, Abbas Zaidi and Richard Steeds

The aim of the study is to establish the impact of 2D echocardiographic methods on absolute values for aortic root dimensions and to describe any allometric relationship to body size. We adopted a nationwide cross-sectional prospective multicentre design using images obtained from studies utilising control groups or where specific normality was being assessed. A total of 248 participants were enrolled with no history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension or abnormal findings on echocardiography. Aortic root dimensions were measured at the annulus, the sinus of Valsalva, the sinotubular junction, the proximal ascending aorta and the aortic arch using the inner edge and leading edge methods in both diastole and systole by 2D echocardiography. All dimensions were scaled allometrically to body surface area (BSA), height and pulmonary artery diameter. For all parameters with the exception of the aortic annulus, dimensions were significantly larger in systole (P<0.05). All aortic root and arch measurements were significantly larger when measured using the leading edge method compared with the inner edge method (P<0.05). Allometric scaling provided a b exponent of BSA0.6 in order to achieve size independence. Similarly, ratio scaling to height in subjects under the age of 40 years also produced size independence. In conclusion, the largest aortic dimensions occur in systole while using the leading edge method. Reproducibility of measurement, however, is better when assessing aortic dimensions in diastole. There is an allometric relationship to BSA and, therefore, allometric scaling in the order of BSA0.6 provides a size-independent index that is not influenced by the age or gender.

Open access

Martin R Cowie

Heart failure is appropriately described as an epidemic, with 1–2% of health care expenditure being directed at its management. In England, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance on the best practice for the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic heart failure. Echocardiography is key to the diagnosis of the underlying cardiac abnormalities, and access to this (with our without biochemical testing using natriuretic peptides) is key to high-quality and speedy diagnosis. New models of care aim to speed up access to echocardiography, but a shortage of technically trained staff remains a limiting factor in improving standards of care. The NHS audits the quality of care and outcome for patients admitted to hospital with heart failure, and this continues to show wide variation in practice, particularly, where patients are not reviewed by the local heart failure multidisciplinary team. Recently, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cardiac Disease issued 10 suggestions for improvement in care for patients with heart failure – access to echocardiography being one of the key suggestions. Time will tell as to whether this support from law makers will assist in the implementation of NICE-recommended standards of care consistently across the country.

Open access

Hitesh C Patel and Justin A Mariani

This case describes an iatrogenic cause of heart failure: the pacemaker syndrome. The diagnosis was initially overlooked but in retrospect could have easily been made by reviewing the rhythm strip recorded during the echocardiogram. The patient eventually received the correct treatment to restore atrioventricular synchrony and experienced rapid resolution to her disabling symptoms.

Learning points:

  • New-onset heart failure following a pacemaker implant should be evaluated with an echocardiogram.
  • Alongside pacing-induced left ventricular systolic dysfunction and pacing wire-related cardiac valve disruption, pacemaker syndrome should be considered.
  • Interpreting a good-quality (showing both P waves and QRS complexes) rhythm strip can greatly aid in the diagnosis of pacemaker syndrome.
Open access

Francesca Tedoldi, Maximilian Krisper, Clemens Köhncke and Burkert Pieske


We present a very rare example of chronic right heart failure caused by torrent tricuspid regurgitation. Massive right heart dilatation and severe tricuspid regurgitation due to avulsion of the tricuspid valve apparatus occurred as a result of a blunt chest trauma following the explosion of a gas bottle 20 years before admission, when the patient was a young man in Vietnam. After this incident, the patient went through a phase of severe illness, which can retrospectively be identified as an acute right heart decompensation with malaise, ankle edema, and dyspnea. Blunt chest trauma caused by explosives leading to valvular dysfunction has not been reported in the literature so far. It is remarkable that the patient not only survived this trauma, but had been managing his chronic heart failure well without medication for over 20 years.

Learning points

  • Thorough clinical and physical examination remains the key to identifying patients with relevant valvulopathies.
  • With good acoustic windows, TTE is superior to TEE in visualizing the right heart.
  • Traumatic avulsion of valve apparatus is a rare but potentially life-threatening complication of blunt chest trauma and must be actively sought for. Transthoracic echocardiography remains the method of choice in these patients.

Open access

Daniel Hammersley, Aamir Shamsi, Mohammad Murtaza Zaman, Philip Berry and Lydia Sturridge

A 63-year-old female presented to hospital with progressive exertional dyspnoea over a 6-month period. In the year preceding her admission, she reported an intercurrent history of abdominal pain, diarrhoea and weight loss. She was found to be hypoxic, the cause for which was initially unclear. A ventilation–perfusion scan identified a right-to-left shunt. Transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE) demonstrated a significant right-to-left intracardiac shunt through a patent foramen ovale (PFO); additionally severe tricuspid regurgitation was noted through a highly abnormal tricuspid valve. The findings were consistent with carcinoid heart disease with a haemodynamically significant shunt, resulting in profound systemic hypoxia. 24-h urinary 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) and imaging were consistent with a terminal ileal primary carcinoid cancer with hepatic metastasis. Liver biopsy confirmed a tissue diagnosis. The patient was commenced on medical therapy for carcinoid syndrome. She subsequently passed away while undergoing anaesthetic induction for valvular surgery to treat her carcinoid heart disease and PFO.

Learning points:

  • Carcinoid syndrome is a rare condition, which presents a significant diagnostic challenge due to its insidious presentation and symptoms. This frequently results in a marked delay in diagnosis.
  • Carcinoid heart disease is characterised by distortion and fixation of right-sided heart valves, which cause valvular regurgitation, stenosis or both. Valvular abnormalities are often found in association with right ventricular failure.
  • In the case described, carcinoid heart disease was found in association with a significant right-to-left intracardiac shunt, created through a PFO due to right atrial volume overload. This prevented right ventricular failure at the expense of creating a state of severe induced systemic hypoxia.
  • This physiological adaptation resulted in an unusual presentation of this condition, due to symptoms resulting from hypoxia, rather than the classical symptoms of carcinoid syndrome or right ventricular failure.
Open access

Adrian Chenzbraun

Stress echocardiography (SE) has a unique ability for simultaneous assessment of both functional class and exercise-related haemodynamic changes and as such is increasingly recognised for the evaluation of non-coronary artery disease pathologies. Some indications such as valvular heart disease or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy have been well established already, while others such as diastolic exercise testing are emerging of late. This paper addresses the main and best established indications for SE in non-ischaemic conditions, providing a practical perspective correlated with updated guidelines.

Open access

Vishal Sharma, David E Newby, Ralph A H Stewart, Mildred Lee, Ruvin Gabriel, Niels Van Pelt and Andrew J Kerr

Stress echocardiography is recommended for the assessment of asymptomatic patients with severe valvular heart disease (VHD) when there is discrepancy between symptoms and resting markers of severity. The aim of this study is to determine the prognostic value of exercise stress echocardiography in patients with common valve lesions. One hundred and fifteen patients with VHD (aortic stenosis (n=28); aortic regurgitation (n=35); mitral regurgitation, (n=26); mitral stenosis (n=26)), and age- and sex-matched controls (n=39) with normal ejection fraction underwent exercise stress echocardiography. The primary endpoint was a composite of death or hospitalization for heart failure. Asymptomatic VHD patients had lower exercise capacity than controls and 37% of patients achieved <85% of their predicted metabolic equivalents (METS). There were three deaths and four hospital admissions, and 24 patients underwent surgery during follow-up. An abnormal stress echocardiogram (METS <5, blood pressure rise <20 mmHg, or pulmonary artery pressure post exercise >60 mmHg) was associated with an increased risk of death or hospital admission (14% vs 1%, P<0.0001). The assessment of contractile reserve did not offer additional predictive value. In conclusion, an abnormal stress echocardiogram is associated with death and hospitalization with heart failure at 2 years. Stress echocardiography should be considered as part of the routine follow-up of all asymptomatic patients with VHD.

Open access

Alice Cowley, Laura Dobson, John Kurian and Christopher Saunderson

Isolated myocardial involvement in tuberculosis is exceedingly rare but there are reports it can present with sudden cardiac death, atrioventricular block, ventricular arrhythmias or congestive cardiac failure. We report the case of a 33-year-old male, of South Asian descent, who presented with chest pain, shortness of breath and an abnormal ECG. The patient had no significant past medical history and coronary angiogram showed no evidence of coronary artery disease. Of note, the patient had recently been discharged from a local district hospital with an episode of myocarditis. The patient was found to be severely hypoxic with evidence of severe biventricular failure on echocardiography. Computed tomography of the chest demonstrated hilar lymphadenopathy, and the differential diagnosis was thought to be tuberculosis or sarcoidosis. A TB Quantiferon gold test performed at the district hospital was positive; however, fine needle aspiration was negative for acid-fast bacilli. Despite aggressive diuresis, the patient became increasingly hypoxic and suffered a cardiac arrest. Post-mortem confirmed a diagnosis of myocardial tuberculosis – a rare case of acute decompensated heart failure.

Learning points:

  • Tuberculosis myocarditis is a rare diagnosis but should be considered in at risk individuals presenting with acute fulminant myocarditis.
  • Cardiac failure can occur even in the absence of disseminated tubercular disease.
  • TB myocarditis is not just a disease of the immunocompromised.
  • Definitive diagnosis of cardiac tuberculosis during life requires a myocardial biopsy.
  • Echocardiography is a vital tool for the assessment of cardiac function, filling pressures and fluid status in the critically unwell patient.
Open access

Ingeborg H F Herold, Salvatore Saporito, Massimo Mischi, Hans C van Assen, R Arthur Bouwman, Anouk G W de Lepper, Harrie C M van den Bosch, Hendrikus H M Korsten and Patrick Houthuizen


Pulmonary transit time (PTT) is an indirect measure of preload and left ventricular function, which can be estimated using the indicator dilution theory by contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS). In this study, we first assessed the accuracy of PTT-CEUS by comparing it with dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI). Secondly, we tested the hypothesis that PTT-CEUS correlates with the severity of heart failure, assessed by MRI and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP).

Methods and results

Twenty patients referred to our hospital for cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) were enrolled. DCE-MRI, CEUS, and NT-proBNP measurements were performed within an hour. Mean transit time (MTT) was obtained by estimating the time evolution of indicator concentration within regions of interest drawn in the right and left ventricles in video loops of DCE-MRI and CEUS. PTT was estimated as the difference of the left and right ventricular MTT. Normalized PTT (nPTT) was obtained by multiplication of PTT with the heart rate. Mean PTT-CEUS was 10.5±2.4s and PTT-DCE-MRI was 10.4±2.0s (P=0.88). The correlations of PTT and nPTT by CEUS and DCE-MRI were strong; r=0.75 (P=0.0001) and r=0.76 (P=0.0001), respectively. Bland–Altman analysis revealed a bias of 0.1s for PTT. nPTT-CEUS correlated moderately with left ventricle volumes. The correlations for PTT-CEUS and nPTT-CEUS were moderate to strong with NT-proBNP; r=0.54 (P=0.022) and r=0.68 (P=0.002), respectively.


(n)PTT-CEUS showed strong agreement with that by DCE-MRI. Given the good correlation with NT-proBNP level, (n)PTT-CEUS may provide a novel, clinically feasible measure to quantify the severity of heart failure.

Clinical Trial Registry: NCT01735838

Open access

Ying X Gue, Sanjay S Bhandari and Mubarak Ahamed

76-year-old female presented following an episode of collapse. She was hypotensive with the paramedics and remained refractory despite fluid resuscitation. Her initial baseline tests revealed an elevated troponin; she subsequently underwent a coronary angiogram that showed mild coronary artery disease. Left ventriculogram was performed, which showed abnormal mid-wall ballooning and severely impaired systolic function, characteristic of Takotsubo syndrome. Echocardiogram confirmed the presence of diagnosis and presence of left ventricular outflow tract obstruction with high gradient. She was initiated on medical heart failure therapy and improved. Follow-up investigations after 2 months showed complete resolution of systolic dysfunction and symptoms.

Learning points:

  • Takotsubo syndrome can present similarly to ACS.
  • Early use of echocardiography in the acute setting can provide vital information.
  • Takotsubo syndrome can result in hemodynamic instability requiring urgent interventions.
  • Other investigative modalities can be used in conjunction with echocardiography to confirm the diagnosis of Takotsubo syndrome.
  • Prognosis is generally good in patients with Takotsubo syndrome.