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Ital Heart J. 2005 Jan;6(1):9-20.

Quantitation of stress echocardiography by tissue Doppler and strain rate imaging: a dream come true?

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  • 1Cardioangiology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Federico II University, Naples.


Tissue Doppler (TD) is an ultrasound tool providing a quantitative agreement of left ventricular regional myocardial function in different modalities. Spectral pulsed wave (PW) TD, performed online during the examination, measures instantaneous myocardial velocities. By means of color TD, velocity images are digitally stored for subsequent off-line analysis and mean myocardial velocities are measured. An implementation of color TD includes strain rate imaging (SRI), based on post-processing conversion of regional velocities in local myocardial deformation rate (strain rate) and percent deformation (strain). These three modalities have been applied to stress echocardiography for quantitative evaluation of regional left ventricular function and detection of ischemia and viability. They present advantages and limitations. PWTD does not permit the simultaneous assessment of multiple walls and therefore is not compatible with clinical stress echocardiography while it could be used in a laboratory setting. Color TD provides a spatial map of velocity throughout the myocardium but its results are strongly affected by the frame rate. Both color TD and PWTD are also influenced by overall cardiac motion and tethering from adjacent segments and require reference velocity values for interpretation of regional left ventricular function. High frame rate (i.e. > 150 ms) post-processing-derived SRI can potentially overcome these limitations, since measurements of myocardial deformation have not any significant apex-to-base gradient. Preliminary studies have shown encouraging results about the ability of SRI to detect ischemia and viability, in terms of both strain rate changes and/or evidence of post-systolic thickening. SRI is, however, Doppler-dependent and time-consuming. Further technical refinements are needed to improve its application and introduce new ultrasound modalities to overcome the limitations of the Doppler-derived deformation analysis.

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