The role of echocardiographic techniques in connective tissue diseases

Autoimmun Rev. 2005 Mar;4(3):171-7. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2004.08.036.


Connective tissue diseases (CTD) lead to a high prevalence of common cardiac manifestations (pericarditis and myocarditis) and of ischemic coronary events with a considerable increase in cardiac mortality related to premature atherosclerosis. Although there are several techniques able to detect cardiac involvement in CTD patients, the most useful and non-invasive technique is echocardiographic exam which is able to detect not only valvular abnormalities, pericardial diseases and pulmonary hypertension but also left ventricular (LV) systolic or diastolic (regional or global) wall motion dysfunction. It is also well known that transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) can better identify cardiac abnormalities, vegetations and embolic sources. Symptomatic patients with positive stress echocardiographic exam or dipyridamole thallium imaging test should be referred for possible cardiac catheterization, especially if a large ischemic territory is involved. Until now, the echocardiographic evaluation of coronary artery tree consisted of assessing regional and global left ventricular systolic and diastolic function at rest and during pharmacological stress test. Recently, a new echocardiographic noninvasive method that allows direct assessment of coronary flow velocity in the mid-distal portion of left anterior descending artery (LAD) has been developed and validated. Advanced ultrasound technology (high-frequency broadband transducer with second harmonic capability) has now made possible a direct arterial visualization and measurement of coronary artery flow in left anterior descending in CTD patients with the assessment of coronary flow reserve (CFR).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Connective Tissue Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology
  • Echocardiography* / methods
  • Female
  • Heart Valves / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged