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Defining left ventricular segmental and global function by echocardiographic intraventricular contrast flow patterns

      Abstract

      Contrast echocardiography improves left ventricular (LV) endocardial border delineation by enhancement of the blood-tissue interface. In particular, the contrast appearing within the LV chamber exhibits characteristic flow patterns over the cardiac cycle, which may be related to the surrounding myocardial wall motion. To determine the relation between the LV intracavitary contrast flow pattern and surrounding wall motion, we reviewed the contrast-enhanced images of 348 consecutive patients studied at rest. We defined 2 different patterns of intracavitary contrast flow as visualized from apical views: a swift, vertical, and homogenous flow towards the apex (pattern A), and a distinctly protracted, swirling, and heterogeneous flow (pattern B). Images recorded on videotapes were reviewed and the type of pattern (A or B) was determined within the initial 30 to 45 seconds of contrast appearance in the left ventricle. Contrast flow patterns interpreted by independent reviewer were then compared with the interpretation of the LV segmental and global function in each patient. Results demonstrate that 224 of 245 (91%) patients exhibiting pattern A had normal LV segmental function. Furthermore, all but 1 patient (102 of 103) with pattern B had ≥1 wall motion abnormality (p <0.0001). Contrast flow pattern B was observed irrespective of the location of LV wall motion abnormality. Global LV function was normal in 93% of patients exhibiting pattern A, whereas varying degrees of LV dysfunction were noted in 83% of patients with pattern B (p <0.0001). The presence of mitral regurgitation (p = 0.46), aortic insufficiency (p = 0.066), or mitral inflow Doppler abnormality (p = 0.102) was not significantly associated with either pattern. Thus, during contrast echocardiography, the LV intracavitary contrast flow pattern complements the assessment of global and segmental LV function.
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