Quantification of mechanical dyssynchrony in growth restricted fetuses and normal controls using speckle tracking echocardiography (STE)

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Purpose:To evaluate longitudinal mechanical dyssynchrony in normally grown fetuses by speckle tracking echocardiography (STE) and to compare longitudinal mechanical dyssynchrony in fetal growth restriction (FGR) with normal controls.Materials and methods:A prospective study was performed on 30 FGR and 62 normally grown fetuses, including 30 controls matched by gestational age, using STE and a transversal four-chamber view. Data analysis was carried out with a high frame rate of about 175 frames/s. Dyssynchrony was analyzed offline with QLab 9 (Philips Medical Systems, Andover, MA, USA) as time differences between peaks in strain of both ventricles and the septum. Inter- and intraventricular and intraseptal dyssynchrony were obtained and inter- and intraobserver reliability was analyzed.Results:Longitudinal mechanical dyssynchrony was feasible in all cases, with high inter- and intraobserver reliability. Levels of inter- and intraventricular dyssynchrony were higher in the FGR than in the control group.Conclusion:Speckle tracking echocardiography (STE) is a reliable technique for cardiac function assessment in the fetal heart. Interventricular dyssynchrony could be a potential parameter for early detection of subclinical myocardial dysfunction before other parameters demand intervention. The future clinical role of longitudinal mechanical dyssynchrony needs to be verified in larger studies and with a technique customized for prenatal echocardiography.

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