Standard and Strain Measurements by Echocardiography Detect Early Overloaded Right Ventricular Dysfunction: Validation against Hemodynamic and Myocyte Contractility Changes in a Large Animal Model

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Early detection of right ventricular (RV) failure is required to improve the management of patients with congenital heart diseases. The aim of this study was to validate echocardiography for the early detection of overloaded RV dysfunction, compared with hemodynamic and myocyte contractility assessment.


Using a porcine model reproducing repaired tetralogy of Fallot, RV function was evaluated over 4 months using standard echocardiography and speckle-tracking compared with hemodynamic parameters (conductance catheter). Sarcomere shortening and calcium transients were recorded in RV isolated myocytes. Contractile reserve (ΔEmax) was assessed by β-adrenergic stimulation in vivo (dobutamine 5 μg/kg) and ex vivo (isoproterenol 100 nM).


Six operated animals were compared with four age- and sex-matched controls. In the operated group, hemodynamic RV efficient ejection fraction was significantly decreased (29.7% [26.2%–34%] vs 42.9% [40.7%–48.6%], P < .01), and inotropic responses to dobutamine were attenuated (ΔEmax was 51% vs 193%, P < .05). Echocardiographic measurements of fraction of area change, tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion, tricuspid annular peak systolic velocity (S′) and RV free wall longitudinal systolic strain and strain rate were significantly decreased. Strain rate, S′, and tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion were correlated with ΔEmax (r = 0.75, r = 0.78, and r = 0.65, respectively, P < .05). These alterations were associated in RV isolated myocytes with the decrease of sarcomere shortening in response to isoproterenol and perturbations of calcium homeostasis assessed by the increase of spontaneous calcium waves.


In this porcine model, both standard and strain echocardiographic parameters detected early impairments of RV function and cardiac reserve, which were associated with cardiomyocyte excitation-contraction coupling alterations.

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