Background: Dengue fever/dengue haemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome is a serious health problem in tropical countries. Intravascular fluid depletion due to capillary leak is presumed to be the cause of hypotension in dengue haemorrhagic fever. The treatment guidelines of the World Health Organization lay stress primarily on monitoring and fluid replacement therapy. During the 1996 epidemic in New Delhi, we observed problems in fluid management of such children and prospectively looked for myocardial dysfunction as an additional factor for hypotension.
Methods: Fifty-four children (< 12 years old) admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi after 15 October 1996 with various grades of the disease, who were fit to be shifted to the echocardiography laboratory, were examined clinically and subjected to a detailed M-mode, 2-dimensional and colour doppler echocardiography. Ejection fractions (Teichholz/Modified Simpson's) and shortening fractions were calculated.
Results: Ejection fraction by modified Simpson's rule was reduced (< 50%) in 9/54 (16.7%) children; 2 of these had significant reductions (< 35%). These 9 children belonged to all stages of clinical severity. Three of these 9 children who had a repeat echocardiogram within 2 months of the illness had improved ejection fractions.
Conclusion: The role of myocardial dysfunction remains to be defined as there was no correlation with clinical severity. Myocardial functions need to be assessed in patients with this disease, especially those who have persistent hypotension in spite of adequate hydration.