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Although cardiac catheterisation (cath) is the diagnostic test for pulmonary hypertension, it is an invasive procedure. Echocardiography (echo) is commonly used for the non-invasive diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension but maybe limited by lack of adequate signals. Therefore, emphasis has been placed on biomarkers as a potential diagnostic tool. No prior paediatric studies have simultaneously compared N-terminal pro-B-type-natriuretic peptide (NTproBNP) with cath/echo as a potential diagnostic tool. The aim of this study was to determine if NTproBNP was a reliable diagnostic tool for pulmonary hypertension in this population.
Patients were divided into Study (echo evidence/established diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension undergoing cath) and Control (cath for small atrial septal defect/patent ductus arteriosus and endomyocardial biopsy post cardiac transplant) groups. NTproBNP, cath/echo data were obtained.
Thirty-one patients met inclusion criteria (10 Study, 21 Control). Median NTproBNP was significantly higher in the Study group. Echo parameters including transannular plane systolic excursion z scores, pulmonary artery acceleration time and right ventricular fractional area change were lower in the Study group and correlated negatively with NTproBNP. Receiver operation characteristic curve analysis demonstrated NTproBNP > 389 pg/ml was 87% specific for the diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension with the addition of pulmonary artery acceleration time improving the specificity.
NTproBNP may be a valuable adjunctive diagnostic tool for pulmonary hypertension in the paediatric population. Echo measures of transannular plane systolic excursion z score, pulmonary artery acceleration time and right ventricular fractional area change had negative correlations with NTproBNP. The utility of NTproBNP as a screening tool for pulmonary hypertension requires validation in a population with unknown pulmonary hypertension status.
Operators are mindful of the balloon-to-aortic annulus ratio when performing balloon aortic valvuloplasty. The method of measurement of the aortic valve annulus has not been standardised.
Methods and results:
Patients who underwent aortic valvuloplasty at two paediatric centres between 2007 and 2014 were included. The valve annulus measured by echocardiography and angiography was used to calculate the balloon-to-aortic annulus ratio and measurements were compared. The primary endpoint was an increase in aortic insufficiency by ≥2 degrees. Ninety-eight patients with a median age at valvuloplasty of 2.1 months (Interquartile range (IQR): 0.2–105.5) were included. The angiographic-based annulus was 8.2 mm (IQR: 6.8–16.0), which was greater than echocardiogram-based annulus of 7.5 mm (IQR: 6.1–14.8) (p < 0.001). This corresponded to a significantly lower angiographic balloon-to-aortic annulus ratio of 0.9 (IQR: 0.9–1.0), compared to an echocardiographic ratio of 1.1 (IQR: 1.0–1.1) (p < 0.001). The degree of discrepancy in measured diameter increased with smaller valve diameters (p = 0.041) and in neonates (p = 0.044). There was significant disagreement between angiographic and echocardiographic balloon-to-aortic annulus ratio measures regarding “High” ratio of >1.2, with angiographic ratio flagging only 2/12 (16.7%) of patients flagged by echocardiographic ratio as “High” (p = 0.012). Patients who had an increase in the degree of aortic insufficiency post valvuloplasty, only 3 (5.5%) had angiographic ratio > 1.1, while 21 (38%) had echocardiographic ratio >1.1 (p < 0.001). Patients with resultant ≥ moderate insufficiency more often had an echocardiographic ratio of >1.1 than angiographic ratio of >1.1 There was no association between increase in balloon-to-aortic annulus ratio and gradient reduction.
Angiographic measurement is associated with a greater measured aortic valve annulus and the development of aortic insufficiency. Operators should use caution when relying solely on angiographic measurement when performing balloon aortic valvuloplasty.
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.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in childhood cancer survivors. Cardiologists must be aware of risk factors and long-term follow-up guidelines, which have historically been the purview of oncologists. Little is known about paediatric cardiologists’ knowledge regarding the cardiotoxicity of cancer treatment and how to improve this knowledge.
A total of 58 paediatric cardiologists anonymously completed a 21-question, web-based survey focused on four cardio-oncology themes: cancer treatment-related risk factors (n = 6), patient-related risk factors (n = 6), recommended surveillance (n = 3), and cardiac-specific considerations (n = 6). Following the baseline survey, a multi-disciplinary team of paediatric cardiologists and cancer survivor providers developed an in-person and web-based educational intervention. A post-intervention survey was conducted 5 months later.
The response rate was 41/58 (70.7%) pre-intervention and 30/58 (51.7%) post-intervention. On the baseline survey, the percentage of correct answers was 68.8 ± 10.3%, which improved to 79.2 ± 16.2% after the intervention (p = 0.009). The theme with the most profound knowledge deficit was surveillance; however, it also had the greatest improvement after the intervention (49.6 ± 26.7 versus 66.7 ± 27.7% correct, p = 0.025). Individual questions with the largest per cent improvement pertained to risk of cardiac dysfunction with time since treatment (52.4 versus 93.1%, p = 0.002) and the role of dexrazoxane (48.8 versus 82.8%, p = 0.020).
Specific knowledge deficits about the care of paediatric cancer survivors were identified amongst cardiologists using a web-based survey. Knowledge of surveillance was initially lowest but improved the most after an educational intervention. This highlights the need for cardio-oncology-based educational initiatives among paediatric cardiologists.
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