Quantitative Parameters of High-Frame-Rate Strain in Patients with Echocardiographically Normal Function

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2019 May;45(5):1197-1207. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2018.11.007. Epub 2019 Feb 14.


Recently, we developed a high-frame-rate echocardiographic imaging system capable of acquiring images at rates up to 2500 per second. High imaging rates were used to quantify longitudinal strain parameters in patients with echocardiographically normal function. These data can serve as a baseline for comparing strain parameters in disease states. The derived timing data also reveal the propagation of mechanical events in the left ventricle throughout the cardiac cycle. High-frame-rate echocardiographic images were acquired from 17 patients in the apical four-chamber view using Duke University's phased array ultrasound system, T5. B-Mode images were acquired at 500-1000 images per second by employing 16:1 or 32:1 parallel processing in receive, a scan depth ≤14 cm and an 80° field of view with a 3.5-MegaHertZ (MHz), 96-element linear array. The images were analyzed using a speckle tracking algorithm tailored for high-frame-rate echocardiographic images developed at Aalborg and Duke University. Four specific mechanical events were defined using strain curves from six regions along the myocardial contour of the left ventricle. The strain curves measure the local deformation events of the myocardium and are independent of the overall cardiac motion. We observed statistically significant differences in the temporal sequence among different myocardial segments for the first mechanical event described, myocardial tissue shortening onset (p < 0.01). We found that the spatial origin of tissue shortening was located near the middle of the interventricular septum in patients with echocardiographically normal function. The quantitative parameters defined here, based on high-speed strain measurements in patients with echocardiographically normal function, can serve as a means of assessing degree of contractile abnormality in the myocardium and enable the identification of contraction propagation. The relative timing pattern among specific events with respect to the Q wave may become an important new metric in assessing cardiac function and may, in turn, improve diagnosis and prognosis.

Keywords: Algorithm; Deformation imaging; Echocardiography; Feature tracking; High frame rate; Speckle tracking; Strain; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Time
  • Ventricular Function / physiology*