An accurate, nontraumatic ultrasonic method to monitor myocardial wall thickening in patients undergoing cardiac surgery

Roberto Bolli, Craig J. Hartley, Jacques E. Chelly, Bharat S. Patel, Raphael S. Rabinovitz, Mohamed O. Jeroudi, Robert Roberts, George Noon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Measurement of systolic wall thickening by sonomicrometry provides an accurate index of regional left ventricular function, but the trauma of crystal insertion limits its widespread clinical use. The first clinical application of a 10 MHz ultrasonic Doppler probe that can be either sutured or applied by suction to the epicardium and can measure wall thickening at any depth of the left ventricular wall is described. In 18 dogs, measurements obtained with the suction probe correlated well (r = 0.97) with those of a previously validated sutured probe. To assess clinical feasibility, the probe was applied to the epicardium of patients undergoing coronary bypass surgery. Good quality wall thickening signals were obtained with no complications. Transmural left ventricular thickening fraction before bypass surgery was 34 ± 3% (mean value ± SE) at the mid-ventricular lateral wall, 33 ± 4% at the anterior basal wall and 26 ± 4% at the mid-ventricular posterior wall. Right ventricular thickening fraction averaged 25 ± 3%. Endocardial thickening fraction tended to exceed epicardial thickening fraction, although the difference attained statistical significance (p < 0.05) only at the anterior basal wall. On average, thickening fraction during the immediate postoperative period remained unchanged compared with the preoperutive values, but a marked individual variability was observed, with 7 of 15 patients exhibiting a decrease and 8 an increase. Exteriorization of the wires attached to the sutured probe allowed continuous in situ monitoring of wall thickening in the postoperative period and subsequent removal of the probe, in six patients the crystal was left in place for 48 to 72 h after surgery and then removed without complications; good wall thickening signals were obtained for the entire period during which the probe was implanted. Thus, the Doppler probe is an accurate, atraumatic method for measuring right and left ventricular regional function. Transmural, endocardial and epicardial function can be mapped at various sites during surgery, and postoperatively one can monitor serial changes of regional function and assess the effects of cardioplegia and other therapeutic interventions. This technique should be useful for both investigative and clinical purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1065
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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