Objective To compare myocardial strain and mechanical dyssynchrony in fetuses with congenital heart disease (CHD) to normal controls using speckle tracking echocardiography (STE). Methods In this comparative cross-sectional study 23 fetuses with CHD and 105 normal controls between 19 and 41 weeks of gestation were assessed with STE. The STE sample box was placed over the myocardium of both ventricles. The parameters of interest included the segmental strain of the left (LV-S) and right lateral ventricle wall (RV-S) and the global ventricular strain of both chambers (2C-S). In order to separately assess the LV, we placed the STE sample box over the myocardium of the LV. We calculated the strain of the LV lateral wall (LW-S), the septum (SEPT-S) and the global ventricular strain of the single LV (1C-S). Furthermore, we analyzed the differences in timing of negative peak myocardial strain between the LV and RV (two-chamber dyssynchrony, 2C-DYS) and also within the LV between the lateral wall and the septum (one-chamber dyssynchrony, 1C-DYS). Results The evaluation of strain and mechanical dyssynchrony was feasible in all cases. Compared to normal controls, fetuses with CHD showed lower segmental and global strain values and the extent of 2C-DYS and 1C-DYS was higher than in the healthy control group. Conclusion The deterioration of myocardial function in CHD can be measured with STE. The assessment of strain and dyssynchrony with STE may be useful for distinguishing fetuses with CHD from healthy fetuses.
Keywords: congenital heart disease; dyssynchrony; echocardiography; prenatal diagnosis; speckle tracking echocardiography; strain.