Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Addressing the Controversy of Estimating Pulmonary Arterial Pressure by Echocardiography.

BACKGROUND: There is currently controversy over whether echocardiography provides reliable estimations of pulmonary pressures. The objective of this study was to determine the factors influencing the accuracy and reliability of estimating right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) using echocardiography in patients with advanced lung disease or pulmonary arterial hypertension.

METHODS: Between January 2001 and December 2012, 667 patients with advanced lung disease or pulmonary arterial hypertension underwent right heart catheterization and transthoracic echocardiography. Of those, 307 had both studies within 5 days of each other. The correlation and bias in estimating RVSP according to tricuspid regurgitation (TR) signal quality and reader expertise were retrospectively determined. Reasons for under- and overestimation were analyzed. The diagnostic performance of estimated RVSP, relative right ventricular size, eccentricity index, and tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion was compared for classifying patients with pulmonary hypertension (mean pulmonary artery pressure ≥ 25 mm Hg).

RESULTS: Invasive mean and systolic pulmonary artery pressures were strongly correlated (R(2) = 0.95, P < .001), with mean pulmonary artery pressure = 0.60 × systolic pulmonary artery pressure + 2.1 mm Hg. Among patients undergoing right heart catheterization and transthoracic echocardiography within 5 days, level 3 readers considered only 61% of TR signals interpretable, compared with 72% in clinical reports. Overestimation in the clinical report was related mainly to not assigning peak TR velocity at the modal frequency and underestimation to overreading of uninterpretable signals. When the TR signal was interpretable, the areas under the curve for classifying pulmonary hypertension were 0.97 for RVSP and 0.98 for RVSP and eccentricity index (P > .05). When TR signals were uninterpretable, eccentricity index and right ventricular size were independently associated with pulmonary hypertension (area under the curve, 0.77).

CONCLUSIONS: Echocardiography reliably estimates RVSP when attention is given to simple quality metrics.

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