A comprehensive echocardiographic protocol for assessing neonatal right ventricular dimensions and function in the transitional period: normative data and z scores

J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2014 Dec;27(12):1293-304. doi: 10.1016/j.echo.2014.08.018. Epub 2014 Sep 23.


Background: There is a paucity of echocardiographic data describing right ventricular (RV) dimensions and function in the early transitional newborn period.

Methods: Fifty healthy term newborns underwent serial echocardiography at a mean of 15 ± 2 and 35 ± 2 hours of age. RV dimensions and functional indices were measured as recommended in the American Society of Echocardiography's recent guidelines. Additional novel parameters included RV anteroinferior basal diameter, fractional area change (FAC) from the apical three-chamber view, and speckle-tracking echocardiography-derived peak longitudinal strain in the RV lateral (apical four-chamber view) and inferior (apical three-chamber view) walls. Results obtained at both time points were compared.

Results: Linear dimensions and tissue Doppler velocities were highly reproducible, while time intervals and FAC measurements were more variable. Three-chamber FAC was higher than four-chamber FAC (36 ± 5% vs. 24 ± 7%, P < .001). Lateral wall peak longitudinal strain was similar to the value for the inferior wall (22 ± 4% vs 18 ± 5%, P > .05). A small increase in RV dimensions was noted on day 2 of life (midcavity diameter, 1.71 ± 0.19 vs 1.55 ± 0.19 cm, P < .01; RV anteroinferior basal diameter, 2.24 ± 0.29 vs 2.06 ± 0.24 cm, P < .01; end-diastolic-area in the apical four-chamber view, 4.32 ± 0.64 vs 4.10 ± 0.69 cm(2), P = .04), while no changes occurred in functional indices. RV dimensions and FAC showed moderate linear correlations with birth weight. Z scores could be computed for the majority of measured indices.

Conclusions: Using conventional and novel indices, the investigators describe a comprehensive echocardiographic protocol for neonatal RV imaging, establish reference ranges, and describe the effect of physiologic postnatal transition on RV dimensions and function. This will facilitate future investigations of RV dysfunction in neonatal cardiopulmonary disorders.

Keywords: Echocardiography; Neonate; Right ventricle; Speckle-tracking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / methods*
  • Female
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stroke Volume / physiology*
  • Ventricular Function / physiology*