Background: The closure of the valves generates shear waves in the heart walls. The propagation velocity of shear waves relates to stiffness. This could potentially be used to estimate the stiffness of the myocardium, with huge potential implications in pathologies characterized by a deterioration of the diastolic properties of the left ventricle. In an earlier phantom study we already validated shear wave tracking with a clinical ultrasound system in cardiac mode.
Purpose: In this study we aimed to measure the shear waves velocity in normal individuals.
Methods: 12 healthy volunteers, mean age=37±10, 33% females, were investigated using a clinical scanner (Philips iE33), equipped with a S5-1 probe, using a clinical tissue Doppler (TDI) application. ECG and phonocardiogram (PCG) were synchronously recorded. We achieved a TDI frame rate of >500Hz by carefully tuning normal system settings. Data were processed offline in Philips Qlab 8 to extract tissue velocity along a virtual M-mode line in the basal third of the interventricular septum, in parasternal long axis view. This tissue velocity showed a propagating wave pattern after closure of the valves. The slope of the wave front velocity in a space-time panel was measured to obtain the shear wave propagation velocity. The velocity of the shear waves induced by the closure of the mitral valve (1st heart sound) and aortic valve (2nd heart sound) was averaged over 4 heartbeats for every subject.
Results: Shear waves were visible after each closure of the heart valves, synchronous to the heart sounds. The figure shows one heart cycle of a subject, with the mean velocity along a virtual M-mode line in the upper panel, synchronous to the ECG signal (green line) and phonocardiogram (yellow line) in the lower panel. The slope of the shear waves is marked with dotted lines and the onset of the heart sounds with white lines. In our healthy volunteer group the mean velocity of the shear wave induced by mitral valve closure was 4.8±0.7m/s, standard error of 0.14 m/s. The mean velocity after aortic valve closure was 3.4±0.5m/s, standard error of 0.09 m/s. We consistently found that for any subject the velocity after mitral valve closure was higher than after aortic valve closure.
Conclusion: The velocity of the shear waves generated by the closure of the heart valves can be measured in normal individuals using a clinical TDI application. The shear wave induced after mitral valve closure was consistently faster than after aortic valve closure.

Abstract P1138.

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Journal European heart journal cardiovascular Imaging
Strachinaru, M, Geleijnse, M.L, Bosch, J.G, de Jong, N, Steen, A.F.W, van Dalen, B.M, & Vos, H.J. (2016). Cardiac shear wave velocity in healthy individuals (Abstract). European heart journal cardiovascular Imaging (Vol. 17, pp. ii242–ii245). doi:10.1093/ehjci/jew262.003