Echocardiographic strain and strain-rate imaging (deformation imaging) is a new non-invasive method for assessment of myocardial function. Due to its ability to differentiate between active and passive movement of myocardial segments, to quantify intraventricular dyssynchrony and to evaluate components of myocardial function, such as longitudinal myocardial shortening, that are not visually assessable, it allows comprehensive assessment of myocardial function and the spectrum of potential clinical applications is very wide. The high sensitivity of both tissue Doppler imaging (TDI) derived and two dimensional (2D) speckle tracking derived myocardial deformation (strain and strain rate) data for the early detection of myocardial dysfunction recommend these new non-invasive diagnostic methods for extensive clinical use. In addition to early detection and quantification of myocardial dysfunction of different etiologies, assessment of myocardial viability, detection of acute allograft rejection and early detection of allograft vasculopathy after heart transplantation, strain and strain rate data are helpful for therapeutic decisions and also useful for follow-up evaluations of therapeutic results in cardiology and cardiac surgery. Strain and strain rate data also provide valuable prognostic information, especially prediction of future reverse remodelling after left ventricular restoration surgery or after cardiac resynchronization therapy and prediction of short and median-term outcome without transplantation or ventricular assist device implantation of patients referred for heart transplantation. The Review explains the fundamental concepts of deformation imaging, describes in a comparative manner the two major deformation imaging methods (TDI-derived and speckle tracking 2D-strain derived) and discusses the clinical applicability of these new echocardiographic tools, which recently have become a subject of great interest for clinicians.
Keywords: Strain imaging, echocardiography, myocardial contraction, diagnosis, prognosis
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