Background: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of native tissue harmonic imaging on endocardial border definition, wall motion scoring, and visualization of intracardiac structures.
Methods and results: For wall motion analysis, 60 consecutive patients underwent standard transthoracic echocardiograms in both harmonic and fundamental modes. Three experienced echocardiographers reviewed each echocardiogram. Endocardial border definition for each wall segment was graded from 1 to 4 (1 = excellent endocardial definition). Wall motion was scored by using a standard 16-segment model and 1 to 5 scale. For visualization of cardiac structures, 50 consecutive patients were studied. Two experienced interpreters reviewed each echocardiogram for both normal and abnormal structures by using the following scoring scale: (1) harmonic is much better than fundamental, (2) harmonic is slightly better than fundamental, (3) harmonic and fundamental are equivalent, (4) fundamental is slightly better than harmonic, and (5) fundamental is much better than harmonic. Visualization of 64% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.61 to 0.66) of all segments improved in harmonic mode, with 26% (95% CI 0.24 to 0.29) improving from poor/not seen to good/excellent. Of 444 segments deemed poor/not seen, visualization of 312 (70%) (95% CI 0.66 to 0.75) improved to good/excellent with harmonic mode. Of these 312 segments, 55% comprised the lateral and anterior walls on apical views. Interobserver agreement on endocardial border definition was 82% to 86%. Scoring of wall motion was altered in 171 of 1075 (16%) of segments by harmonic mode. This was significantly greater than the interobserver disagreement, which was only 10% (p<0.002). Mitral valve chordae and papillary muscles were visualized slightly/much better with harmonic mode in 40 of 50 echocardiograms. Left atrial boundaries were seen slightly/much better in harmonic mode in 29 of 50 studies. Abnormal structures were seen slightly/much better in harmonic mode in 12 of 14 cases.
Conclusions: Native tissue harmonic imaging has significant impact on endocardial border definition and wall motion scoring and improves the visualization of both normal and abnormal cardiac structures.