Structural and functional changes in maternal left ventricle during pregnancy: a three-dimensional speckle-tracking echocardiography study

Cardiovasc Ultrasound. 2015 Jan 27;13:6. doi: 10.1186/1476-7120-13-6.


Background: Pregnancy represents a physiological adaptation to the transient load changes of maternal heart. This study aimed to investigate maternal left ventricle (LV) performance during normal pregnancy by three-dimensional speckle-tracking echocardiography (3D STE) parameters considering LV loading and shape.

Methods: Sequential two-dimensional echocardiography (2DE) and 3D STE were performed on 68 women during each pregnancy trimester and 6 to 9 weeks after delivery, while thirty age-matched, healthy, nonpregnant women served as controls. Global longitudinal strain (GLS), global circumferential strain (GCS), global area strain (GAS) and global radial strain (GRS) were measured.

Results: Increased cardiac index and progressive eccentric hypertrophy was detected, which subsequently recovered postpartum. In late pregnancy, GLS, GCS, GAS and GRS significantly decreased (P < 0.05) accompanied by a slight reduction of LV ejection fraction (EF) (P < 0.05), and these values returned postpartum to baseline level. All 3D strain indices correlated well with gestation age (P < 0.01), while compared to other components, GAS exhibited the strongest association with 3D EF (r = 0.549) and sphericity index (r = 0.328), and was the only parameter that correlated well with LV mass index (r = 0.22).

Conclusions: This study gives normal ranges of 3D STE indices in pregnancy. 3D STE demonstrated modified myocardial deformation and changes in maternal LV structure and function during the gestation period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Echocardiography, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Elastic Modulus / physiology
  • Female
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Observer Variation
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Pregnancy Trimesters / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stroke Volume / physiology
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology*