Comparison of Contrast Agent-Enhanced Versus Non-Contrast Agent-Enhanced Real-Time Three-Dimensional Echocardiography for Analysis of Left Ventricular Systolic Function
Ultrasound contrast has shown to improve endocardial border definition. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the value of contrast agent-enhanced versus non-contrast agent-enhanced real-time 3-dimensional echocardiography (RT3DE) for the assessment of left ventricular (LV) volumes and ejection fraction. Thirty-nine unselected patients underwent RT3DE with and without SonoVue contrast agent enhancement and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the same day. An image quality index was calculated by grading all 16 individual LV segments on a scale of 0 to 4: 0, not visible; 1, poor; 2, moderate; 3, good; and 4, excellent. The 3-dimensional data sets were analyzed offline using dedicated TomTec analysis software. By manual tracing, LV end-systolic volume, LV end-diastolic volume, and LV ejection fraction were calculated. After contrast agent enhancement, mean image quality index improved from 2.4 ± 1.0 to 3.0 ± 0.9 (p <0.001). Contrast agent-enhanced RT3DE measurements showed better correlation with MRI (LV end-diastolic volume, r = 0.97 vs 0.86; LV end-systolic volume, r = 0.96 vs 0.94; LV ejection fraction, r = 0.94 vs 0.81). The limits of agreement (Bland-Altman analysis) showed a similar bias for RT3DE images with and without contrast agent but with smaller limits of agreement for contrast agent-enhanced RT3DE. Also, inter- and intraobserver variabilities decreased. In a subgroup, patients with poor to moderate image quality showed an improvement in agreement after administration of contrast agent (±24.4% to ±12.7%) to the same level as patients with moderate to good image quality without contrast agent (±10.4%). In conclusion, contrast agent-enhanced RT3DE is more accurate in assessment of LV function as evidenced by better correlation and narrower limits of agreement compared with MRI, as well as lower intra- and interobserver variabilities.