Do we have two hearts? New insights in right ventricular function supported by myocardial imaging echocardiography

Heart Fail Rev. 2010 Jan;15(1):39-61. doi: 10.1007/s10741-009-9154-x.


RV performance is difficult to evaluate, given its geometry, interrelationship with the left ventricle, and sensitivity to alterations in pulmonary pressure. This article focuses on some of the challenges related to the assessment of RV function in the setting of the RV's unique anatomic, physiologic, conventional and newer echocardiographic aspects, and therapeutic implications. The majority of proposed methods of echocardiographic assessment of RV function are based on volumetric approximations of the RV. Such approaches have inherent limitations, first as volume-related measures such as EF are load dependent, second because of the complex geometry of the RV. The issue of RV geometry is usually overcome using geometry-independent parameters such as tricuspid annular excursion and the Tei index. The recent introduction of real-time three-dimensional echocardiography and myocardial imaging echocardiography (tissue Doppler imaging, 1D-strain and 2D-strain echocardiography) implied a great progress in echocardiography. Tissue Doppler imaging allows the quantitative assessment of RV systolic and diastolic function by means of measurement of myocardial velocities. Strain measurements have been shown to correlate well with sonomicrometry segment length measurements both in the inflow and outflow tract of the RV and under different loading conditions. Other findings have been reported in chronic and acute clinical settings. Standard and novel echocardiographic methods of assessment of RV size and performance can help clinicians in the treatment of acute and chronic RV failure and contribute to a better understanding of the peculiar chamber-related functional mechanisms in the context of ventricular interdependent independency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Echocardiography, Three-Dimensional*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Left / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ventricular Dysfunction, Right / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ventricular Function, Right*