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The Pediatric Heart Network Normal Echocardiogram Database Study had unanticipated challenges. We sought to describe these challenges and lessons learned to improve the design of future studies.
Challenges were divided into three categories: enrolment, echocardiographic imaging, and protocol violations. Memoranda, Core Lab reports, and adjudication logs were reviewed. A centre-level questionnaire provided information regarding local processes for data collection. Descriptive statistics were used, and chi-square tests determined differences in imaging quality.
For the 19 participating centres, challenges with enrolment included variations in Institutional Review Board definitions of “retrospective” eligibility, overestimation of non-White participants, centre categorisation of Hispanic participants that differed from National Institutes of Health definitions, and exclusion of potential participants due to missing demographic data. Institutional Review Board amendments resolved many of these challenges. There was an unanticipated burden imposed on centres due to high numbers of echocardiograms that were reviewed but failed to meet submission criteria. Additionally, image transfer software malfunctions delayed Core Lab image review and feedback. Between the early and late study periods, the proportion of unacceptable echocardiograms submitted to the Core Lab decreased (14 versus 7%, p < 0.01). Most protocol violations were from eligibility violations and inadvertent protected health information disclosure (overall 2.5%). Adjudication committee reviews led to protocol changes.
Numerous challenges encountered during the Normal Echocardiogram Database Study prolonged study enrolment. The retrospective design and flaws in image transfer software were key impediments to study completion and should be considered when designing future studies collecting echocardiographic images as a primary outcome.
Distinguishing between hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and other causes ofleft ventricular hypertrophy can be difficult in children. We hypothesised that cardiac MRI T1 mapping could improve diagnosis of paediatric hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and that measures of myocardial function would correlate with T1 times and extracellular volume fraction.
Thirty patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy completed MRI with tissue tagging, T1-mapping, and late gadolinium enhancement. Left ventricular circumferential strain was calculated from tagged images. T1, partition coefficient, and synthetic extracellular volume were measured at base, mid, apex, and thickest area of myocardial hypertrophy. MRI measures compared to cohort of 19 healthy children and young adults. Mann–Whitney U, Spearman’s rho, and multivariable logistic regression were used for statistical analysis.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients had increased left ventricular ejection fraction and indexed mass. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy patients had decreased global strain and increased native T1 (−14.3% interquartile range [−16.0, −12.1] versus −17.3% [−19.0, −15.7], p < 0.001 and 1015 ms [991, 1026] versus 990 ms [972, 1001], p = 0.019). Partition coefficient and synthetic extracellular volume were not increased in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Global native T1 correlated inversely with ejection fraction (ρ = −0.63, p = 0.002) and directly with global strain (ρ = 0.51, p = 0.019). A logistic regression model using ejection fraction and native T1 distinguished between hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and control with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.91.
In this cohort of paediatric hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, strain was decreased and native T1 was increased compared with controls. Native T1 correlated with both ejection fraction and strain, and a model using native T1 and ejection fraction differentiated patients with and without hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Myocardial strain measurements are increasingly used to detect complications following heart transplantation. However, the temporal association of these changes with allograft rejection is not well defined. The aim of this study was to describe the evolution of strain measurements prior to the diagnosis of rejection in paediatric heart transplant recipients.
All paediatric heart transplant recipients (2004–2015) with at least one episode of acute rejection were identified. Longitudinal and circumferential strain measurements were assessed at the time of rejection and retrospectively on all echocardiograms until the most recent negative biopsy. Smoothing technique (LOESS) was used to visualise the changes of each variable over time and estimate the time preceding rejection at which alterations are first detectable.
A total of 58 rejection episodes were included from 37 unique patients. In the presence of rejection, there were decrements from baseline in global longitudinal strain (−18.2 versus −14.1), global circumferential strain (−24.1 versus −19.6), longitudinal strain rate (−1 versus −0.8), circumferential strain rate (−1.3 versus −1.1), peak longitudinal early diastolic strain rate (1.3 versus 1), and peak circumferential early diastolic strain rate (1.5 versus 1.3) (p<0.01 for all). The earliest detectable changes occurred 45 days prior to rejection with simultaneous alterations in myocardial strain and ejection fraction.
Changes in graft function can be detected non-invasively prior to the diagnosis of rejection. However, changes in strain occur concurrently with a decline in ejection fraction. Strain measurements aid in the non-invasive detection of rejection, but may not facilitate earlier diagnosis compared to more traditional measures of ventricular function.
Outcome analyses in large administrative databases are ideal for rare diseases such as Becker and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Unfortunately, Becker and Duchenne do not yet have specific International Classification of Disease-9/-10 codes. We hypothesised that an algorithm could accurately identify these patients within administrative data and improve assessment of cardiovascular morbidity.
Hospital discharges (n=13,189) for patients with muscular dystrophy classified by International Classification of Disease-9 code: 359.1 were identified from the Pediatric Health Information System database. An identification algorithm was created and then validated at three institutions. Multi-variable generalised linear mixed-effects models were used to estimate the associations of length of stay, hospitalisation cost, and 14-day readmission with age, encounter severity, and respiratory disease accounting for clustering within the hospital.
The identification algorithm improved identification of patients with Becker and Duchenne from 55% (code 359.1 alone) to 77%. On bi-variate analysis, left ventricular dysfunction and arrhythmia were associated with increased cost of hospitalisation, length of stay, and mortality (p<0.001). After adjustment, Becker and Duchenne patients with left ventricular dysfunction and arrhythmia had increased length of stay with rate ratio 1.4 and 1.2 (p<0.001 and p=0.004) and increased cost of hospitalization with rate ratio 1.4 and 1.4 (both p<0.001).
Our algorithm accurately identifies patients with Becker and Duchenne and can be used for future analysis of administrative data. Our analysis demonstrates the significant effects of cardiovascular disease on length of stay and hospitalisation cost in patients with Becker and Duchenne. Better recognition of the contribution of cardiovascular disease during hospitalisation with earlier more intensive evaluation and therapy may help improve outcomes in this patient population.
Aneurysmal dilation of the right ventricular outflow tract complicates assessment of right ventricular function in patients with repaired tetralogy of Fallot. Tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion is commonly used to estimate ejection fraction. We hypothesised that tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion measured by cardiac MRI approximates global and segmental right ventricular function, specifically right ventricular sinus ejection fraction, in children with repaired tetralogy of Fallot.
Tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion was measured retrospectively on cardiac MRIs in 54 patients with repaired tetralogy of Fallot. Values were compared with right ventricular global, sinus, and infundibular ejection fractions. Tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion was indexed to body surface area, converted into a fractional value, and converted into published paediatric Z-scores.
Tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion measurements had good agreement between observers. Right ventricular ejection fraction did not correlate with the absolute or indexed tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion and correlated weakly with fractional tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion (r=0.41 and p=0.002). Segmental right ventricular function did not appreciably improve correlation with any of the tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion measures. Paediatric Z-scores were unable to differentiate patients with normal and abnormal right ventricular function.
Tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion measured by cardiac MRI correlates poorly with global and segmental right ventricular ejection fraction in children with repaired tetralogy of Fallot. Tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion is an unreliable approximation of right ventricular function in this patient population.
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