JOURNAL ARTICLE

Usefulness of tissue Doppler imaging to predict arrhythmic events in adults with repaired tetralogy of Fallot

Ruben Ramos, Luísa Branco, Ana Agapito, José Alberto Oliveira, Lídia Sousa, Ana Galrinho, António Fiarresga, Alexandra Toste, Ana Lousinha, Mário Oliveira, J Nogueira Da Silva, Rui Cruz Ferreira
Portuguese Journal of Cardiology: An Official Journal of the Portuguese Society of Cardiology 2010, 29 (7-8): 1145-61
21066968

INTRODUCTION: Adults with repaired tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) may be at risk for progressive right ventricular (RV) dilatation and dysfunction, which is commonly associated with arrhythmic events. In frequently volume-overloaded patients with congenital heart disease, tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) is particularly useful for assessing RV function. However, it is not known whether RV TDI can predict outcome in this population.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether RV TDI parameters are associated with supraventricular arrhythmic events in adults with repaired TOF.

METHODS: We studied 40 consecutive patients with repaired TOF (mean age 35 +/- 11 years, 62% male) referred for routine echocardiographic exam between 2007 and 2008. The following echocardiographic measurements were obtained: left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction, LV end-systolic volume, LV end-diastolic volume, RV fractional area change, RV end-systolic area, RV end-diastolic area, left and right atrial volumes, mitral E and A velocities, RV myocardial performance index (Tei index), tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (TAPSE), myocardial isovolumic acceleration (IVA), pulmonary regurgitation color flow area, TDI basal lateral, septal and RV lateral peak diastolic and systolic annular velocities (E' 1, A' 1, S' 1, E' s, A' s, S' s, E' rv, A' rv, S' rv), strain, strain rate and tissue tracking of the same segments. QRS duration on resting ECG, total duration of Bruce treadmill exercise stress test and presence of exercise-induced arrhythmias were also analyzed. The patients were subsequently divided into two groups: Group 1--12 patients with previous documented supraventricular arrhythmias (atrial tachycardia, fibrillation or flutter) and Group 2 (control group)--28 patients with no previous arrhythmic events. Univariate and multivariate analysis was used to assess the statistical association between the studied parameters and arrhythmic events.

RESULTS: Patients with previous events were older (41 +/- 14 vs. 31 +/- 6 years, p = 0.005), had wider QRS (173 +/- 20 vs. 140 +/- 32 ms, p = 0.01) and lower maximum heart rate on treadmill stress testing (69 +/- 35 vs. 92 +/- 9%, p = 0.03). All patients were in NYHA class I or II. Clinical characteristics including age at corrective surgery, previous palliative surgery and residual defects did not differ significantly between the two groups. Left and right cardiac chamber dimensions and ventricular and valvular function as evaluated by conventional Doppler parameters were also not significantly different. Right ventricular strain and strain rate were similar between the groups. However, right ventricular myocardial TDI systolic (Sa: 5.4+2 vs. 8.5 +/- 3, p = 0.004) and diastolic indices and velocities (Ea, Aa, septal E/Ea, and RV free wall tissue tracking) were significantly reduced in patients with arrhythmias compared to the control group. Multivariate linear regression analysis identified RV early diastolic velocity as the sole variable independently associated with arrhythmic history (RV Ea: 4.5 +/- 1 vs. 6.7 +/- 2 cm/s, p = 0.01). A cut-off for RV Ea of < 6.1 cm/s identified patients in the arrhythmic group with 86% sensitivity and 59% specificity (AUC = 0.8).

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that TDI may detect RV dysfunction in patients with apparently normal function as assessed by conventional echocardiographic parameters. Reduction in RV early diastolic velocity appears to be an early abnormality and is associated with occurrence of arrhythmic events. TDI may be useful in risk stratification of patients with repaired tetralogy of Fallot.

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