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John B Chambers and Richard P Steeds

As heart valve disease increases in prevalence in an ageing population, comorbidities make patients increasingly hard to assess. Specialist competencies are therefore increasingly important to deliver best practice in a specialist valve clinic, and to make best advantage of advances in percutaneous and surgical interventions. However, patient care is not improved unless all disciplines have specialist valve competencies, and there is little guidance about the practical details of running a specialist valve clinic. In this issue of Echo Research and Practice, the British Heart Valve Society (BHVS) and the British Society of Echocardiography (BSE) introduce a series of articles to guide all disciplines in how to run a valve clinic.

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Jun K Teoh and Richard P Steeds

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Boyang Liu, Nicola C Edwards, Simon Ray and Richard P Steeds

Mitral regurgitation (MR) is the second most common form of valvular disease requiring surgery. Correct identification of surgical candidates and optimising the timing of surgery are key in management. For primary MR, this relies upon a balance between the peri-operative risks and rates of successful repair in patients undergoing early surgery when asymptomatic with the potential risk of irreversible left ventricular dysfunction if intervention is performed too late. For secondary MR, recognition that this is a highly dynamic condition where MR severity may change is key, although data on outcomes in determining whether concomitant valve intervention is performed with revascularisation has raised questions regarding timing of surgery. There has been substantial interest in the use of stress echocardiography to risk stratify patients in mitral regurgitation. This article reviews the role of stress echocardiography in both primary and secondary mitral regurgitation and discusses how this can help clinicians tackle the challenges of this prevalent condition.

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Girish Dwivedi, Ganadevan Mahadevan, Donie Jimenez, Michael Frenneaux and Richard P Steeds

Only limited data are available from which normal ranges of mitral annular (MA) and tricuspid annular (TA) dimensions have been established. Normative data are important to assist the echocardiographer in defining the mechanism of atrioventricular valve regurgitation and to inform surgical planning. This study was conceived to establish normal MA and TA dimensions. Consecutive healthy subjects over the age of 60 were randomly recruited from the community as part of a screening project within South Birmingham. MA and TA dimensions in end-systole and end-diastole were evaluated in the parasternal and apical acoustic windows views using transthoracic echocardiography. Gender (males (M) and females (F))-specific dimensions were then assessed. A total of 554 subjects were screened and 74 with pathology considered to have an effect on annular dimensions were excluded from analysis. The mean age of the remaining 480 subjects was 70±7 years and the majority were female (56%). Dimensions were larger in men than in women and greater at end-diastole than end-systole (both P<0.05). Mean MA diameters at end-systole in the parasternal long axis view (cm) were 3.44 cm (M) and 3.11 cm (F) and at end-diastole 3.15 cm (M) and 2.83 cm (F) respectively. Mean TA diameters (cm) at end-systole in the apical 4 chamber view were 2.84 (M) and 2.80 (F) and at end-diastole 3.15 (M) and 3.01 (F) respectively. The reference ranges derived from this study differ from current published standards and should help to improve distinction of normal from pathological findings, in identifying aetiology and defining the mechanism of regurgitation.

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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.

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John Fryearson, Nicola C Edwards, Sagar N Doshi and Richard P Steeds

Transcatheter aortic valve implantation is now accepted as a standard mode of treatment for an increasingly large population of patients with severe aortic stenosis. With the availability of this technique, echocardiographers need to be familiar with the imaging characteristics that can help to identify which patients are best suited to conventional surgery or transcatheter aortic valve implantation, and what parameters need to be measured. This review highlights the major features that should be assessed during transthoracic echocardiography before presentation of the patient to the ‘Heart Team’. In addition, this review summarises the aspects to be considered on echocardiography during follow-up assessment after successful implantation of a transcatheter aortic valve.

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Richard P Steeds, Richard Wheeler, Sanjeev Bhattacharyya, Joseph Reiken, Petros Nihoyannopoulos, Roxy Senior, Mark J Monaghan and Vishal Sharma

Stress echocardiography is an established technique for assessing coronary artery disease. It has primarily been used for the diagnosis and assessment of patients presenting with chest pain in whom there is an intermediate probability of coronary artery disease. In addition, it is used for risk stratification and to guide revascularisation in patients with known ischaemic heart disease. Although cardiac computed tomography has recently been recommended in the United Kingdom as the first-line investigation in patients presenting for the first time with atypical or typical angina, stress echocardiography continues to have an important role in the assessment of patients with lesions of uncertain functional significance and patients with known ischaemic heart disease who represent with chest pain. In this guideline from the British Society of Echocardiography, the indications and recommended protocols are outlined for the assessment of ischaemic heart disease by stress echocardiography.

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Richard P Steeds, Craig E Stiles, Vishal Sharma, John B Chambers, Guy Lloyd and William Drake

This is a joint position statement of the British Society of Echocardiography, the British Heart Valve Society and the Society for Endocrinology on the role of echocardiography in monitoring patients receiving dopamine agonist (DA) therapy for hyperprolactinaemia. (1) Evidence that DA pharmacotherapy causes abnormal valve morphology and dysfunction at doses used in the management of hyperprolactinaemia is extremely limited. Evidence of clinically significant valve pathology is absent, except for isolated case reports around which questions remain. (2) Attributing change in degree of valvular regurgitation, especially in mild and moderate tricuspid regurgitation, to adverse effects of DA in hyperprolactinaemia should be avoided if there are no associated pathological changes in leaflet thickness, restriction or retraction. It must be noted that even where morphological change in leaflet structure and function may be suspected, grading is semi-quantitative on echocardiography and may vary between different machines, ultrasound settings and operators. (3) Decisions regarding discontinuation of medication should only be made after review of serial imaging by an echocardiographer experienced in analysing drug-induced valvulopathy or carcinoid heart disease. (4) A standard transthoracic echocardiogram should be performed before a patient starts DA therapy for hyperprolactinaemia. Repeat transthoracic echocardiography should then be performed at 5 years after starting cabergoline in patients taking a total weekly dose less than or equal to 2 mg. If there has been no change on the 5-year scan, repeat echocardiography could continue at 5-yearly intervals. If a patient is taking more than a total weekly dose of 2 mg, then annual echocardiography is recommended.

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John B Chambers, Madalina Garbi, Norman Briffa, Vishal Sharma and Richard P Steeds

Echocardiography plays a vital role in the follow-up of patients with replacement heart valves. However, there is considerable variation in international guidelines regarding the recommended time points after implantation at which routine echocardiography should be performed. The purpose of routine echocardiography is to detect early structural valve deterioration in biological valves to improve the timing of redo interventions. However, the risk of valve deterioration depends on many valve-related factors (valve design and patient prosthesis mismatch) and patient-related factors (age, diabetes, systemic hypertension, renal dysfunction and smoking). In this statement, the British Heart Valve Society and the British Society of Echocardiography suggest practical guidance. A plan should be made soon after implantation, but this may need to be modified for individual patients and as circumstances change. It is important that patients are managed in a multidisciplinary valve clinic.

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Thomas Mathew, Lynne Williams, Govardhan Navaratnam, Bushra Rana, Richard Wheeler, Katherine Collins, Allan Harkness, Richard Jones, Dan Knight, Kevin O'Gallagher, David Oxborough, Liam Ring, Julie Sandoval, Martin Stout, Vishal Sharma, Richard P Steeds and on behalf of the British Society of Echocardiography Education Committee

Heart failure (HF) is a debilitating and life-threatening condition, with 5-year survival rate lower than breast or prostate cancer. It is the leading cause of hospital admission in over 65s, and these admissions are projected to rise by more than 50% over the next 25 years. Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) is the first-line step in diagnosis in acute and chronic HF and provides immediate information on chamber volumes, ventricular systolic and diastolic function, wall thickness, valve function and the presence of pericardial effusion, while contributing to information on aetiology. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is the third most common cause of HF and is the most common cardiomyopathy. It is defined by the presence of left ventricular dilatation and left ventricular systolic dysfunction in the absence of abnormal loading conditions (hypertension and valve disease) or coronary artery disease sufficient to cause global systolic impairment. This document provides a practical approach to diagnosis and assessment of dilated cardiomyopathy that is aimed at the practising sonographer.