Background: Noninvasive estimation of pulmonary artery systolic and diastolic pressures usually requires the investigation of both tricuspid and pulmonary regurgitant jets and an estimate of right atrial pressure. A new, noninvasive method to obtain pulmonary diastolic pressure (based on the hemodynamic demonstration that right ventricular systolic pressure and pulmonary artery diastolic pressure are equal at the time of pulmonary valve opening) from the analysis of tricuspid regurgitation alone has been described in a small cohort of patients. We sought to verify the accuracy of this method in a large population of patients with heart failure.
Methods: An estimate of pulmonary artery diastolic pressure was obtained by transposing the pulmonary opening time (from the onset of the R wave on the electrocardiographic tracing to the beginning of pulmonic forward flow on Doppler examination) onto the tricuspid regurgitant velocity curve and calculating the pulmonary artery diastolic pressure value as the pressure gradient between the right ventricle and right atrium at this time. The study group included 86 consecutive patients (64 men, aged 52 +/- 11 years) with heart failure (New York Heart Association class > or =II, 94%) who were in stable clinical condition with a chiefly idiopathic (57%), ischemic (24%), or other form (13%) of dilated cardiomyopathy. Noninvasive, right-sided pressures were compared with invasive measurements obtained during right heart catheterization performed within 24 hours. The Bland and Altman graphic method was used together with the calculation of the Lin concordance correlation coefficient and its 95% CI to assess the agreement between hemodynamic and echocardiographic measurements.
Results: Catheter-derived pulmonary artery systolic pressure ranged from 8 to 119 mm Hg (mean 42 +/- 21 mm Hg), pulmonary artery diastolic pressure from 1 to 59 mm Hg (mean 20 +/- 11 mm Hg), and right atrial pressure from -5 to 20 mm Hg (mean 6 +/- 5 mm Hg). Tricuspid regurgitation was detected in 75 of 86 patients (87%). Pulmonary artery systolic pressure ranged from 13 to 110 mm Hg (mean 44 +/- 21 mm Hg); the pressure gradient between the right ventricle and right atrium at time t of the pulmonary valve opening on the tricuspid regurgitation velocity curve was measurable in 70 of 75 (93%) cases and ranged from 3.5 to 64 mm Hg (mean 22 +/- 11 mm Hg). Good agreement was observed not only for pulmonary artery systolic pressure but also for pulmonary artery diastolic pressure, based on the analysis of the tricuspid regurgitation velocity jet, with a slight difference between measurements (-1.8 and 0.1, respectively), no evident pattern of point scattering, and a high concordance correlation coefficient that was elicited by the virtually total overlapping of lines on the graph. Overall results were not significantly different whether patients with depressed right ventricular function (right ventricular ejection fraction < or =35%), with a tricuspid regurgitation grade > or =2 and atrial fibrillation were included in the analysis.
Conclusions: The narrow paired difference for the estimate of pulmonary artery systolic pressure and the even better difference for pulmonary artery diastolic pressure using the tricuspid regurgitation velocity curve analysis indicates that this new method reliably estimates invasive right-sided pressures over a wide range of pressure values in patients with heart failure. The overall good correlation with invasive values indicates that Doppler examination of tricuspid regurgitation alone may provide a simple and comprehensive new method for the noninvasive evaluation of right ventricular and pulmonary hemodynamics in patients with heart failure.