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Open access

Nicola Gaibazzi, Filippo Pigazzani, Claudio Reverberi and Thomas R Porter

Myocardium subtended by obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) may show reduced left ventricle (LV) global longitudinal strain (GLS), as well as early systolic lengthening (ESL) before shortening; these can be measured at rest and may predict obstructive CAD. This study investigated whether baseline resting LV longitudinal strain measurements may be able to detect significant CAD in patients undergoing stress echocardiography (SE) and coronary angiography, who have normal resting wall motion. We selected patients with a clinical indication of coronary angiography who were previously referred for SE. Patients with known CAD, rest wall-motion (WM) abnormalities, or rhythm/conduction abnormalities were excluded. Speckle tracking strain analyses were retrospectively performed on digitally archived 2D video-loops, using vendor independent software. Peak GLS and duration of ESL were recorded. Diagnostic accuracy of each parameter to predict obstructive (≥50%) CAD was assessed and multivariate logistic regression models fitted and compared. Eighty-two patients were enrolled and 49 had significant CAD by quantitative angiography. Patients with CAD were more often male (P=0.01) and more frequently presented with typical angina (P<0.01). Among rest and stress variables, GLS showed a Youden index of 0.665, while SE WM assessment showed a Youden index of 0.599. These were the only two parameters that remained predictive in multivariate analyses. In conclusion, rest GLS demonstrated comparable accuracy with stress-echo data for prediction of angiographically obstructive CAD; it also added significant CAD prediction when combined with clinical data, similar to SE WM assessment.

Open access

Maria Pia Donataccio, Claudio Reverberi and Nicola Gaibazzi

Summary

A 52-year-old man presented after one episode of effort angina, normal treadmill electrocardiogram (ECG), and clearly positive adenosine cardiac magnetic resonance (aCMR) for reversible perfusion defects in the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery territory. Contrast high-dose dipyridamole (0.84 mg/kg per 6 min) stress echocardiography (cSE) demonstrated normal myocardial perfusion (MP) and wall motion at rest, while perfusion defects were shown in the lateral and apical segments after dipyridamole. Wall motion at stress was completely normal and stress/rest Doppler diastolic velocity ratio on the LAD demonstrated reduced flow reserve. In this case, cSE was the provocative test detecting both the LAD and circumflex obstructive lesions, thanks to MP analysis, while wall motion assessment was negative, not different from treadmill ECG, and aCMR highlighted only the LAD disease.

Learning points

  • In spite of the low sensitivity of wall motion assessment during stress-echocardiography to detect coronary artery disease (CAD) in patients with multivessel disease and balanced ischemia, the addition of cSE with myocardial perfusion assessment, is not only able to overcome this limitation of false negative rate on a per-patient basis, but may also depict multivessel myocardial perfusion defects more efficiently than aCMR, as in the reported case, thanks to high spatial resolution.

  • Myocardial perfusion assessment during cSE, although not always technically feasible, has a very high spatial and temporal resolution which can easily demonstrate multivessel subendocardial perfusion defects during maximal vasodilation, which is often the only detectable marker of multivessel, balanced CAD.

  • It is known that wall motion analysis during pharmacologic stress may result in falsely negative multivessel disease; in these cases perfusion imaging or Doppler measurement of coronary flow reserve may be helpful to detect multivessel obstructive CAD, which is a significant and dismal prognostic finding. aCMR is assumed as the perfect imaging modality for CAD detection, but in selected cases, such as the one presented, an advanced echocardiographic method in experienced hands can provide even more comprehensive results.

Open access

Camelia Demetrescu, Shelley Rahman Haley and Aigul Baltabaeva

We present the case of a previously fit 84-year-old female with long-standing systemic hypertension and the echo phenotype of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – asymmetrical septal hypertrophy, significant resting left ventricular (LV) outflow obstruction and mitral regurgitation (MR) secondary to systolic anterior motion (SAM) of the mitral valve. Valsalva provocation caused an increase in LVOT dynamic gradient and MR severity. The patient presented with a progressive decrease in exercise capacity along with chest pain relieved by rest or sublingual GTN. Exercise stress echo demonstrated a paradoxical response with reduction of both LVOT gradient and severity of MR. There was evidence of inducible regional wall motion abnormalities associated with no change in LV cavity size. Coronary angiogram revealed significant triple vessel disease.

Learning points:

  • 20% of adult HCM patients over the age of 45 years have been shown to have coexistent coronary artery disease (CAD) that is associated with a reduced overall survival. Diagnosis of CAD in patients with HCM is difficult to make based on clinical grounds because of the high incidence of angina in patients with HCM but no CAD.

  • Reduction of LVOT gradient with stress in patients with HCM (in the absence of a vaso-vagal response) may indicate ischaemia due to significant multivessel epicardial CAD, including left mainstem stenosis. Hence, this finding during stress echocardiography suggests that further investigation of the coronaries should be considered.

  • Exercise stress echocardiography has not been validated for the assessment of ischaemia secondary to epicardial coronary disease in patients with HCM because ischaemia in this group of patients is often caused by multiple mechanisms, including microvascular ischaemia and myocardial bridging.

  • Comparative assessment of rest and peak exercise 2D strain may add incremental value in identifying regional wall motion abnormalities, which may be difficult to distinguish by eye in hypertrophied, dynamic myocardium.

  • A paradoxical response to exercise with significant decrease in LVOT obstruction and MR has been reported in the literature. This is often associated with a trend toward increased exercise capacity and better prognostic outcomes. Our clinical case presents a significant decrease in LVOT obstruction and MR that was associated with a trend toward reduced exercise capacity and was caused by ischaemia.

Open access

Jamal N Khan, Timothy Griffiths, Tamseel Fatima, Leah Michael, Andreea Mihai, Zeeshan Mustafa, Kully Sandhu, Robert Butler, Simon Duckett and Grant Heatlie

Background

Physiologist-led stress echocardiography (PLSE) services provide potential for expansion of SE services and increased productivity for cardiologists. There are however no published data on the feasibility of PLSE. We sought to assess the feasibility, safety and robustness of PLSE and cardiologist-led stress echocardiography (CLSE) for coronary artery disease (CAD) assessment.

Methods

Retrospective analysis of 898 patients undergoing PLSE or CLSE for CAD assessment using exercise or dobutamine stress over 24 months. PLSE involved 2 cardiac physiologists (exercise) or 1 physiologist plus 1 cardiac nurse (dobutamine). A cardiology registrar was present in the echocardiography department during PLSE in case of medical complications. CLSE involved 1 physiologist and 1 trainee cardiologist who analysed the study and reviewed findings with an imaging cardiologist. Sixteen-segment wall motion scoring (WMS, WMSI) analysis was performed. Feasibility (stressor, image quality, proportion of completed studies, agreement with imaging cardiologist analysis) and safety (complication rate) were compared for PLSE and CLSE.

Results

The majority of studies were CLSE (56.2%) and used dobutamine (68.7%). PLSE more commonly used exercise (69.2%). Overall, 96% of studies were successfully completed (>14 diagnostic segments in 98%, P = 0.899 PLSE vs CLSE). Commencement of PLSE was associated with an increase in annual SE’s performed for CAD assessment. Complication rates were comparably very low for PLSE and CLSE (0.8% vs 1.8%, P = 0.187). There was excellent agreement between PLSE and CLSE WMS interpretation of 480 myocardial segments at rest (κ = 0.87) and stress (κ = 0.70) and WMSI (ICCs and Pearson’s r >0.90, zero Bland–Altman mean bias).

Conclusion

This to our knowledge is the first study of the feasibility of PLSE. PLSE performed by well-trained physiologists is feasible and safe in contemporary practice. PLSE and CLSE interpretation of stress echocardiography for CAD agree very closely.

Open access

Thomas Sturmberger, Johannes Niel, Josef Aichinger and Christian Ebner

Summary

We present the case of a 26-year-old male with acute tonsillitis who was referred for coronary angiography because of chest pain, elevated cardiac biomarkers, and biphasic T waves. The patient had no cardiovascular risk factors. Echocardiography showed no wall motion abnormalities and no pericardial effusion. 2D speckle tracking revealed distinct decreased regional peak longitudinal systolic strain in the lateral and posterior walls. Ischemic disease was extremely unlikely in view of his young age, negative family history regarding coronary artery disease, and lack of regional wall motion abnormalities on the conventional 2D echocardiogram. Coronary angiography was deferred as myocarditis was suspected. To confirm the diagnosis, cardiac magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) was performed, showing subepicardial delayed hyperenhancement in the lateral and posterior walls correlating closely with the strain pattern obtained by 2D speckle tracking echocardiography. With a working diagnosis of acute myocarditis associated with acute tonsillitis, we prescribed antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The patient’s clinical signs resolved along with normalization of serum creatine kinase (CK) levels, and the patient was discharged on the third day after admission.

Learning points

  • Acute myocarditis can mimic acute coronary syndromes.

  • Conventional 2D echocardiography lacks specific features for detection of subtle regional wall motion abnormalities.

  • 2D speckle tracking expands the scope of echocardiography in identifying myocardial dysfunction derived from edema in acute myocarditis.

Open access

Real Lebeau, Karim Serri, Maria Di Lorenzo, Claude Sauvé, Van Hoai Viet Le, Vicky Soulières, Malak El-Rayes, Maude Pagé, Chimène Zaïani, Jérôme Garot and Frédéric Poulin

Background

Simpson biplane method and 3D by transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), radionuclide angiography (RNA) and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) are the most accepted techniques for left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) assessment. Wall motion score index (WMSI) by TTE is an accepted complement. However, the conversion from WMSI to LVEF is obtained through a regression equation, which may limit its use. In this retrospective study, we aimed to validate a new method to derive LVEF from the wall motion score in 95 patients.

Methods

The new score consisted of attributing a segmental EF to each LV segment based on the wall motion score and averaging all 16 segmental EF into a global LVEF. This segmental EF score was calculated on TTE in 95 patients, and RNA was used as the reference LVEF method. LVEF using the new segmental EF 15-40-65 score on TTE was compared to the reference methods using linear regression and Bland–Altman analyses.

Results

The median LVEF was 45% (interquartile range 32–53%; range from 15 to 65%). Our new segmental EF 15-40-65 score derived on TTE correlated strongly with RNA-LVEF (r = 0.97). Overall, the new score resulted in good agreement of LVEF compared to RNA (mean bias 0.61%). The standard deviations (s.d.s) of the distributions of inter-method difference for the comparison of the new score with RNA were 6.2%, indicating good precision.

Conclusion

LVEF assessment using segmental EF derived from the wall motion score applied to each of the 16 LV segments has excellent correlation and agreement with a reference method.

Open access

Riëtte Du Toit, Phillip G Herbst, Annari van Rensburg, Hendrik W Snyman, Helmuth Reuter and Anton F Doubell

Aims

Lupus myocarditis occurs in 5–10% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). No single feature is diagnostic of lupus myocarditis. Speckle tracking echocardiography (STE) can detect subclinical left ventricular dysfunction in SLE patients, with limited research on its utility in clinical lupus myocarditis. We report on STE in comparison to conventional echocardiography in patients with clinical lupus myocarditis.

Methods and results

A retrospective study was done at a tertiary referral hospital in South Africa. SLE patients with lupus myocarditis were included and compared to healthy controls. Echocardiographic images were reanalyzed, including global longitudinal strain through STE. A poor echocardiographic outcome was defined as final left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) <40%. 28 SLE patients fulfilled the criteria. Global longitudinal strain correlated with global (LVEF: r = −0.808; P = 0.001) and regional (wall motion score: r = 0.715; P < 0.001) function. In patients presenting with a LVEF ≥50%, global longitudinal strain (P = 0.023), wall motion score (P = 0.005) and diastolic function (P = 0.004) were significantly impaired vs controls. Following treatment, LVEF (35–47% (P = 0.023)) and wall motion score (1.88–1.5 (P = 0.017)) improved but not global longitudinal strain. Initial LVEF (34%; P = 0.046) and global longitudinal strain (−9.5%; P = 0.095) were lower in patients with a final LVEF <40%.

Conclusions

This is the first known report on STE in a series of patients with clinical lupus myocarditis. Global longitudinal strain correlated with regional and global left ventricular function. Global longitudinal strain, wall motion score and diastolic parameters may be more sensitive markers of lupus myocarditis in patients presenting with a preserved LVEF ≥50%. A poor initial LVEF and global longitudinal strain were associated with a persistent LVEF <40%. Echocardiography is a non-invasive tool with diagnostic and prognostic value in lupus myocarditis.

Open access

Tudor Trache, Stephan Stöbe, Adrienn Tarr, Dietrich Pfeiffer and Andreas Hagendorff

Comparison of 3D and 2D speckle tracking performed on standard 2D and triplane 2D datasets of normal and pathological left ventricular (LV) wall-motion patterns with a focus on the effect that 3D volume rate (3DVR), image quality and tracking artifacts have on the agreement between 2D and 3D speckle tracking. 37 patients with normal LV function and 18 patients with ischaemic wall-motion abnormalities underwent 2D and 3D echocardiography, followed by offline speckle tracking measurements. The values of 3D global, regional and segmental strain were compared with the standard 2D and triplane 2D strain values. Correlation analysis with the LV ejection fraction (LVEF) was also performed. The 3D and 2D global strain values correlated good in both normally and abnormally contracting hearts, though systematic differences between the two methods were observed. Of the 3D strain parameters, the area strain showed the best correlation with the LVEF. The numerical agreement of 3D and 2D analyses varied significantly with the volume rate and image quality of the 3D datasets. The highest correlation between 2D and 3D peak systolic strain values was found between 3D area and standard 2D longitudinal strain. Regional wall-motion abnormalities were similarly detected by 2D and 3D speckle tracking. 2DST of triplane datasets showed similar results to those of conventional 2D datasets. 2D and 3D speckle tracking similarly detect normal and pathological wall-motion patterns. Limited image quality has a significant impact on the agreement between 3D and 2D numerical strain values.

Open access

Thomas R Porter

In a study, published in this issue of Echo Research and Practice, Ntoskas et al. retrospectively analyzed the safety of a cardiac physiologist performing, and interpreting, Dobutamine stress echocardiography (DSE) in of 300 patients undergoing DSE for the detection of inducible reversible ischemia, myocardial viability and valvular heart disease. While safety during the tests themselves did not appear to be compromised with this unsupervised approach, the interpretation of these DSEs causes concerns regarding broad patient safety relative to misread results.

Open access

Sergio Barros-Gomes, Niyada Naksuk, Dragan Jevremovic and Hector R Villarraga

Cardiac amyloidosis (CA) is relatively rare and frequently misdiagnosed. Other disorders presenting with increased left ventricular (LV) mass can mimic its diagnosis. This case illustrates unique findings of primary light chain (AL) amyloidosis in a patient with remarkable signs of CA. Here, we report a 49-year-old male with prior diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) based on an echocardiogram performed 1 year earlier, which presented with 8 weeks of periorbital rash. The patient had numbness in the past 3 years. More recently, the patient presented with shortness of breath. Physical examination was remarkable for periorbital purpura, macroglossia and orthostatic hypotension. Cardiac auscultation showed S3 and S4. Electrocardiography showed diffuse low-voltage QRS complexes. Echocardiography revealed severe diastolic impairment; granular ‘sparkling’ pattern of the myocardium with thickened walls, interatrial septum and valves; and pericardial effusion. Diastolic dysfunction and thick walls with low ECG voltage are compelling diagnostic findings. Laboratory workup showed increased free light chain-differential (FLC-diff), N-terminal fragment of brain natriuretic peptide (NT-BNP) and cardiac Troponin T (cTnT). Bone marrow biopsy confirmed AL amyloidosis. A diagnosis of AL amyloidosis with cardiac involvement mimicking HCM was made. The patient died during hospitalization due to sudden cardiac death. This case illustrates the importance of the combination of clinical, serological, and electro- and echocardiographic findings to establish the diagnosis of CA.

Learning points:

  • Several disorders presenting with increased LV mass can mimic CA.

  • Echocardiography is one of the most important methods to diagnose CA and HCM.

  • Signs of CA include LV wall thickness; thickening of interatrial septum, valves and right ventricular free wall; and pericardial effusion. Diastolic dysfunction and thick walls on echocardiography with low ECG voltage are the hallmark of disease.

  • CA is a major prognostic factor in AL amyloidosis.

  • Signs of HCM on echocardiography include several patterns of LV hypertrophy, such as sigmoidal, reverse curve, neutral and apical morphologies; LV outflow tract or mid-cavity obstruction; systolic anterior motion of mitral leaflets; mitral regurgitation and diastolic dysfunction.

  • The combination of clinical and serological features, along morphological and functional structures, has an important role for establishing diagnosis and predicting prognosis.