The influence of region of interest width in fetal 2D-speckle tracking echocardiography late in pregnancy

Int J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2021 Nov 3. doi: 10.1007/s10554-021-02455-1. Online ahead of print.


Speckle tracking echocardiography is a promising method for assessment of myocardial function in fetal and neonatal hearts, but further studies are necessary to validate and optimize the settings for use in fetal cardiology. Previous studies have shown that the definition of the region of interest (ROI) affects strain values in adults. The aim of this study was to investigate how different widths of ROI influences measurements of four-chamber longitudinal systolic strain in fetuses late in pregnancy. Thirty-one singleton, healthy fetuses born to healthy mothers underwent an echocardiographic examination during gestational week 37. Speckle tracking was performed with two different settings for ROI width; the narrowest and second most narrow, provided both widths were assessed as suitable for the myocardial wall thickness of the fetus. We found an inverse correlation between the ROI width and the strain values. Four-chamber longitudinal strain changed from - 20.7 ± 3.6% to - 18.0 ± 4.4% (p < 0.001) with increasing ROI width. Further, strain decreased from the endocardium to the epicardium with multilayer measurements. Different widths of ROI influenced the strain measurements significantly in the fetal heart, comparable to what has been reported in adults. A standardization of the ROI setting could improve the interpretation, and reduce variability in fetal strain measurements.

Keywords: Echocardiography; Fetal; Region of interest; Speckle tracking; Strain.