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Open access

Tigran Khachatryan, Roy Beigel, Reza Arsanjani and Robert J Siegel

Summary

We describe a case of a 58-year-old man with cardiogenic shock who underwent triple vessel coronary artery bypass and a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation. His course was complicated by stroke, worsening mitral regurgitation, aortic regurgitation, and multiple cardiac thrombi while on the device. We provide the details of the patient's hospital course, management, and echocardiographic findings. We also discuss the utility of echocardiography before LVAD insertion and its role for continued monitoring after insertion.

Learning points

  • Ventricular assist devices (VADs) are used as bridge to decision, transplant, recovery, or destination therapy in patients with advanced heart failure and cardiogenic shock.
  • VADs improve survival and the quality of life but have significant associated complications.
  • Echocardiography plays an essential role before VAD insertion and for postoperative cardiac monitoring. Information provided by echocardiography is used in device selection, consideration for corrective surgical interventions, and device explantation.

Open access

Takahide Ito and Michihiro Suwa

Spontaneous echo contrast (SEC) indicates blood stasis in cardiac chambers and major vessels, and is a known precursor of thrombus formation. Transesophageal echocardiography plays a pivotal role in detecting and grading SEC in the left atrial (LA) cavity. Assessing LA SEC can identify patients at increased risk for thromboembolic events. LA SEC also develops in patients who have sinus rhythm, especially in those with heart failure. Detection of LA SEC is not uncommon in subjects who have multiple cardiovascular comorbidities, although mechanisms behind this association are not fully understood. In patients with atrial fibrillation, the role of mitral regurgitation in counteracting LA SEC and subsequent thromboembolism is controversial. Moreover, alterations of blood coagulability and elevated levels of certain biological markers in the blood contribute to occurrence of LA SEC. This review describes the pathogenesis and assessment of SEC, in addition to the relationship between LA SEC and clinical, biological and echocardiographic parameters.

Open access

Rienzi Díaz-Navarro and Petros Nihoyannopoulos

A 54-year-old male developed a left ventricular pseudoaneurysm (Ps) along the lateral wall of the left ventricle (LV), which was diagnosed incidentally by two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography (2DTTE) 6 months after an acute myocardial infarction. Color flow imaging (CFI) showed blood flow from the LV into the aneurysmal cavity and invasive coronary angiography revealed sub-occlusion of the circumflex artery. A complementary study using cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) confirmed a dilated left ventricle with depressed ejection fraction, thin dyskinetic anterolateral and inferolateral walls, a Ps adjacent to the lateral wall of the LV contained by the pericardium and blood passing in and out through a small defect in the LV mid-anterolateral wall. Late gadolinium-enhanced imaging demonstrated transmural myocardial infarction in the lateral wall and delayed enhancement of the pericardium, which formed the walls of the Ps. A conservative approach was adopted in this case, optimizing the patient’s heart failure medications, including cardioselective beta-blocker agents, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, spironolactone and chronic anticoagulation therapy because of a high risk of ischemic stroke in these patients. At the 13-month follow-up, the patient remained stable with New York Heart Association class II heart failure. In conclusion, 2DTTE and CFI seem to be suitable initial methods for diagnosing Ps of the LV, but CMR is an excellent complementary method for characterizing further this cardiac entity. Furthermore, the long-term outcome of patients with Ps of the LV who are treated medically appears to be relatively benign.

Learning points:

  • Left ventricular pseudoaneurysms are uncommon but severe complications of acute myocardial infarction.
  • Transthoracic two-dimensional echocardiography and CFI are suitable non-invasive diagnostic methods for diagnosing left ventricular pseudoaneurysms.
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance is an excellent complementary method, as it offers additional information for further characterization of this cardiac complication.
  • Despite the fact that surgery is the treatment of choice to avoid a risk of fatal rupture, the long-term outcome of patients with left ventricular pseudoaneurysm who are treated medically appears to be relatively benign.
Open access

Benoy N Shah, Anita MacNab, Jane Lynch, Reinette Hampson, Roxy Senior and Richard P Steeds

Stress echocardiography is a widely utilised test in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease (CAD), valvular heart disease and cardiomyopathies. Its advantages include the ubiquitous availability of echocardiography, lack of ionising radiation, choice of physiological or pharmacological stressors, good diagnostic accuracy and robust supporting evidence base. SE has evolved significantly as a technique over the past three decades and has benefitted considerably from improvements in overall image quality (superior resolution), machine technology (e.g. digital cine-loop acquisition and side-by-side image display) and development of second-generation ultrasound contrast agents that have improved reader confidence and diagnostic accuracy. The purpose of this article is to review the breadth of SE in contemporary clinical cardiology and discuss the recently launched British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) Stress Echocardiography accreditation scheme.

Open access

Neil Howell and William Bradlow

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the single most common form of inherited heart disease. Left ventricular outflow tract obstruction (LVOTO) is a recognised feature of this condition which arises when blood leaving the outflow tract is impeded by systolic anterior motion of the mitral valve. In an important minority of patients, breathlessness, chest pain and syncope may result and persist despite the use of medications. In suitable candidates, surgery may relieve obstruction and its associated symptoms, and normalise life expectancy. Refinements in surgical techniques have marked improvements in the understanding of mechanisms underlying LVOTO. In this review, we hope to provide the reader with an understanding of how contemporary surgical practice has developed, which patients should be considered for surgery, and what results are anticipated. The role echocardiography plays in this area is highlighted throughout.

Open access

Nicola Smith, Richard Steeds, Navroz Masani, Julie Sandoval, Gill Wharton, Jane Allen, John Chambers, Richard Jones, Guy Lloyd, Bushra Rana, Kevin O'Gallagher, Richard Wheeler and Vishal Sharma

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a relatively common inherited cardiac condition with a prevalence of approximately one in 500. It results in otherwise unexplained hypertrophy of the myocardium and predisposes the patient to a variety of disease-related complications including sudden cardiac death. Echocardiography is of vital importance in the diagnosis, assessment and follow-up of patients with known or suspected HCM. The British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) has previously published a minimum dataset for transthoracic echocardiography, providing the core parameters necessary when performing a standard echocardiographic study. However, for patients with known or suspected HCM, additional views and measurements are necessary. These additional views allow more subtle abnormalities to be detected or may provide important information in order to identify patients with an adverse prognosis. The aim of this Guideline is to outline the additional images and measurements that should be obtained when performing a study on a patient with known or suspected HCM.

Open access

James Yates, Colin Forbes Royse, Carolyn Royse, Alistair George Royse and David Jeffrey Canty

Background

Ultrasound-assisted examination of the cardiovascular system with focused cardiac ultrasound by the treating physician is non-invasive and changes diagnosis and management of patient’s with suspected cardiac disease. This has not been reported in a general practice setting.

Aim

To determine whether focused cardiac ultrasound performed on patients aged over 50 years changes the diagnosis and management of cardiac disease by a general practitioner.

Design and setting

A prospective observational study of 80 patients aged over 50years and who had not received echocardiography or chest CT within 12months presenting to a general practice.

Method

Clinical assessment and management of significant cardiac disorders in patients presenting to general practitioners were recorded before and after focused cardiac ultrasound. Echocardiography was performed by a medical student with sufficient training, which was verified by an expert. Differences in diagnosis and management between conventional and ultrasound-assisted assessment were recorded.

Results and conclusion

Echocardiography and interpretation were acceptable in all patients. Significant cardiac disease was detected in 16 (20%) patients, including aortic stenosis in 9 (11%) and cardiac failure in 7 (9%), which were missed by clinical examination in 10 (62.5%) of these patients. Changes in management occurred in 12 patients (15% overall and 75% of those found to have significant cardiac disease) including referral for diagnostic echocardiography in 8 (10%), commencement of heart failure treatment in 3 (4%) and referral to a cardiologist in 1 patient (1%).

Routine focused cardiac ultrasound is feasible and frequently alters the diagnosis and management of cardiac disease in patients aged over 50years presenting to a general practice.

Open access

Sadie Bennett, Duwarakan Satchithananda and Gareth Law

Summary

A 42-year-old male was admitted with shortness of breath secondary to suspected heart failure and chest infection. An echocardiogram revealed a dilated and impaired left ventricle; ejection fraction 29%, with a large, mobile thrombus within the left ventricular apex. Due to the presence of liver dysfunction, vitamin K antagonists were deemed inappropriate; thus, the decision was taken to use the novel anticoagulation agent Apixaban. After 6 days of receiving Apixaban, a cardiac magnetic resonance scan was preformed, which showed complete resolution of the LV apical thrombus.

Learning points:

  • Patients with a dilated and impaired LV are at an increased risk of developing LV thrombus.
  • A large and mobile LV thrombus is associated with an increased risk of embolic events.
  • Vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) are often the first-line therapy for LV thrombus; however, these may be inappropriate in some patients.
  • NOACs are advantageous in comparison to VKAs and are used to treat: non-valvular atrial fibrillation, pulmonary embolisms and used in the prevention of recurrent deep vein thrombosis in adults.
  • To date, NOACs are not licensed for the treatment of an LV thrombus; however, there are growing evidence whereby there use has shown promise in reducing the risk of embolic events and demonstrate rapid reduction in size/full resolution of an LV thrombus.
  • Large, randomised research trials comparing NOACs and VKAs in the treatment of LV thrombus are needed, which may lead to a change in standard clinical practice that could benefit patients.
Open access

Daniel Modin, Ditte Madsen Andersen and Tor Biering-Sørensen

Heart failure (HF) is a threat to public health. Heterogeneities in aetiology and phenotype complicate the diagnosis and management of HF. This is especially true when considering HF with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), which makes up 50% of HF cases. Natriuretic peptides may aid in establishing a working diagnosis in patients suspected of HF, but echocardiography remains the optimal choice for diagnosing HF. Echocardiography provides important prognostic information in both HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) and HFpEF. Traditionally, emphasis has been put on the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). LVEF is useful for both diagnosis and prognosis in HFrEF. However, echocardiography offers more than this single parameter of systolic function, and for optimal risk assessment in HFrEF, an echocardiogram evaluating systolic, diastolic, left atrial and right ventricular function is beneficial. In this assessment echocardiographic modalities such as global longitudinal strain (GLS) by 2D speckle-tracking may be useful. LVEF offers little value in HFpEF and is neither helpful for diagnosis nor prognosis. Diastolic function quantified by E/e′ and systolic function determined by GLS offer prognostic insight in HFpEF. In HFpEF, other parameters of cardiac performance such as left atrial and right ventricular function evaluated by echocardiography also contribute with prognostic information. Hence, it is important to consider the entire echocardiogram and not focus solely on systolic function. Future research should focus on combining echocardiographic parameters into risk prediction models to adopt a more personalized approach to prognosis instead of identifying yet another echocardiographic biomarker.

Open access

Sitara G Khan, Dimitris Klettas, Stam Kapetanakis and Mark J Monaghan

Abstract

Cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) can profoundly improve outcome in selected patients with heart failure; however, response is difficult to predict and can be absent in up to one in three patients. There has been a substantial amount of interest in the echocardiographic assessment of left ventricular dyssynchrony, with the ultimate aim of reliably identifying patients who will respond to CRT. The measurement of myocardial deformation (strain) has conventionally been assessed using tissue Doppler imaging (TDI), which is limited by its angle dependence and ability to measure in a single plane. Two-dimensional speckle-tracking echocardiography is a technique that provides measurements of strain in three planes, by tracking patterns of ultrasound interference (‘speckles’) in the myocardial wall throughout the cardiac cycle. Since its initial use over 15 years ago, it has emerged as a tool that provides more robust, reproducible and sensitive markers of dyssynchrony than TDI. This article reviews the use of two-dimensional and three-dimensional speckle-tracking echocardiography in the assessment of dyssynchrony, including the identification of echocardiographic parameters that may hold predictive potential for the response to CRT. It also reviews the application of these techniques in guiding optimal LV lead placement pre-implant, with promising results in clinical improvement post-CRT.