Background: Right ventricular (RV) dysfunction after left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation significantly complicates post-device management and has been shown to be associated with increased mortality. Pre-operative identification of patients who may develop post-LVAD RV dysfunction is challenging. This study was designed to evaluate pre-operative echocardiographic speckle tracking imaging as a predictor of post operative RV dysfunction. Methods: Thirty-nine patients who underwent Heartmate II LVAD placement in a single center were studied. Pre- and post-operative clinical, hemodynamic, laboratory, and echocardiographic data were prospectively collected as part of an ongoing institutional LVAD database. RV strain parameters were measured retrospectively using off-line speckletracking analysis software. Results: Twenty five of 39 LVAD recipients developed acute RV failure during the early post-operative period. RV function in 14 of these recipients improved with inotropes and judicious adjustment of LVAD parameters. Eleven patients, however, expired despite aggressive medical therapy including 7 patients who underwent placement of an RVAD. These 11 individuals were identified as having significantly lower global RV strain prior to device placement (p<0.05). Seventy two percent of the patients with a peak longitudinal systolic RV strain higher than -3%, expired. Twenty-four of 27 (88%) patients with a global RV strain of -3% or lower survived without need for an RVAD (p<0.001). Hemodynamic, laboratory and traditional echocardiographic data were not predictive of post-LVAD RV dysfunction or survival. Multivariate analysis showed RV longitudinal strain, especially global strain, to be the only significant predictor of severe RV dysfunction. Conclusion: Poor intrinsic RV myocardial function is associated with a higher mortality in LVAD patients. Speckle-tracking echocardiography imaging, particularly, peak systolic global RV strain appears to be promising in predicting LVAD patients who require RVAD.
Key words: Echocardiography, Heart Failure, Right heart function, Strain, Ventricular assist device.