Reliability of Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction from Three-Dimensional Echocardiography for Cardiotoxicity Onset Detection in Patients with Breast Cancer

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Cardiotoxicity is a well-known adverse effect of various chemotherapeutic agents that can be monitored by echocardiography. A decrease in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) triggers consideration for therapy modification or interruption. The aim of this study was to evaluate how variability in LVEF estimates computed using three-dimensional echocardiography could influence cardiotoxicity onset detection.


One hundred eighty one patients with breast cancer treated with anthracycline and trastuzumab were analyzed. LVEF was computed using two commercial software packages. In a subgroup of 40 patients, three-dimensional echocardiographic data were reanalyzed to assess intra- and interobserver variability by two expert investigators using both packages. Global longitudinal strain (GLS) imaging was evaluated in 64 patients.


End-diastolic volume, end-systolic volume, and LVEF measurements obtained applying the two software packages were in good agreement, with small bias and acceptable limits of agreement. Intra- and interobserver variability was smaller using one of the two software packages. However, for both packages, variability indexes were in the range of affecting LVEF estimates at a level that could lead to an inaccurate assessment of cardiac adverse effects of cancer therapeutic drugs. On the basis of LVEF, 11 of 181 patients (6.1%) had cardiotoxicity at 3-month follow-up. The absolute value of GLS was smaller in 16 of 64 patients (25%) thought to have cardiotoxicity on the basis of GLS results, including six of seven patients who had cardiotoxicity considering LVEF in this subgroup.


Following clinical definition of cardiotoxicity onset, variability in LVEF computation by three-dimensional echocardiography could be a confounding factor for cardiotoxicity diagnosis, and different software packages should not be used interchangeably for LVEF monitoring. GLS confirms its predictive value for subsequent cardiotoxicity.

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