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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 2329-0358

Evaluation of the Graft Mechanical Function Using Speckle-Tracking Echocardiography During the First Year After Orthotropic Heart Transplantation

Karolina Antończyk, Tomasz Niklewski, Remigiusz Antończyk, Michael Zakliczyński, Marian Zembala, Tomasz Kukulski

Department of Cardiac, Vascular and Endovascular Surgery and Transplantology, SMDZ in Zabrze, Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Silesian Centre for Heart Diseases, Zabrze, Poland

Ann Transplant 2018; 23:554-560

DOI: 10.12659/AOT.909359

Available online: 2018-08-08

Published: 2018-08-08


BACKGROUND: Recent advances in ultrasound strain imaging facilitate more precise monitoring of subtle myocardial changes and thus may allow for more appropriate assessment of myocardium after orthotopic heart transplantation (OHT). This study aimed to explore longitudinal left ventricular (LV) and right ventricular (RV) function by speckle-tracking echocardiography (STE) during a 12-month follow-up period in relation to acute cellular rejection (ACR) degree ≥2R and the response to intense immunosuppressive therapy with intravenous steroids.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Forty-five adult heart transplant recipients were prospectively assessed at a single center from January 2016 until June 2017. Echocardiography was performed serially at baseline and together with routine biopsies at 2 weeks and 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after OHT. Changes in graft function were evaluated using STE before and during ACR and in the resolving period of ACR.
RESULTS: A total of 220 pairs of biopsy specimens and strain recordings were analyzed. Moderate ACR was seen in 30 biopsies (13.6%). In the serial assessment, longitudinal strain parameters of the LV (global and 4-, 2-, 3-chamber longitudinal strain) and RV (global and free wall longitudinal strain) were decreased at baseline and improved significantly (P<0.001) within 12 months after OHT. The degree of improvement was not influenced by ACR. There were no significant differences in circumferential, radial, or longitudinal strain rate, or mechanical dyssynchrony. Reduced LV and RV longitudinal strain was related to ACR degree 2R and increased significantly (P<0.0005) during 3 days of intravenous methylprednisolone therapy.
CONCLUSIONS: Using the STE technique, we have documented an acute improvement in mechanical myocardial function following ACR steroid therapy and a progressive recovery of LV and RV longitudinal function during the first year after OHT.

Keywords: Echocardiography, Graft Rejection, Heart Transplantation, Ventricular Function