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Circ J. 2011;75(8):1934-41. Epub 2011 May 31.

Impaired subendocardial wall thickening and post-systolic shortening are signs of critical myocardial ischemia in patients with flow-limiting coronary stenosis.

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Cardiovascular Division, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Japan.



The early diagnosis of myocardial ischemia is still challenging. The aim of the present study was to determine whether subendocardial hypokinesis and post-systolic contraction could be early markers of myocardial ischemia.


Thirty-one consecutive patients with flow-limiting severe coronary stenosis but without visually abnormal left ventricular wall motion underwent quantitative echocardiography. Myocardial strain was measured using layer-by-layer analysis in severely hypoperfused segments. Radial strain (RS) was measured in the subendocardial, subepicardial, and total wall (innerRS, outerRS, and totalRS, respectively). Circumferential strain (CS) was also measured as 3 separate layers: subendocardial, mid-layer, and subepicardial layers (innerCS, midCS, and outerCS, respectively). Post-systolic shortening (PSS) was defined as the peak strain after end systole, and post-systolic strain index (PSI) was calculated as PSS divided by end-systolic strain. TotalRS was similar between ischemic and normally perfused segments, but innerRS and inner/outer RS ratio were significantly smaller in the ischemic segments than in corresponding segments in healthy subjects. Receiver operating characteristic analysis identified an optimum cut-off for PSI of 0.6. The combined criteria of inner/outer RS ratio <1.0 and PSI >0.6 achieved 95% specificity for the presence of flow-limiting stenosis.


Combined assessment of both subendocardial contractile impairment and PSS is very useful in identifying a severely hypoperfused left ventricular wall even without visual wall motion abnormality.

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