How do I assess the left ventricular (LV) systolic function by bedside point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS)?

You can assess the LV systolic function by POCUS by just zeroing in on the following cardiac parameters: 1. Anterior mitral valve leaflet motion in early diastole; 2. Change in LV chamber diameter; and 3. LV wall thickness during systole.1

First assess the anterior mitral valve leaflet motion towards the interventricular septum in early diastole in the parasternal long axis view (Figure). Estimated or measured distance between anterior mitral valve leaflet and the interventricular septum is called E-point septal separation (EPSS). When LV systolic function is normal, anterior mitral valve leaflet opens fully in early diastole, resulting in a small or minimal separation between it and the interventricular septum. Due to the fixed length of the chordae and the enlarged LV chamber size, anterior mitral valve leaflets are unable to fully open as systolic function worsens. This results in increased separation between the anterior mitral valve leaflet and the interventricular septum. An estimated EPSS greater than 10 mm is considered abnormal and suggests LV dysfunction.1,2

You can also estimate the LV ejection fraction (LVEF) quantitatively  by utilizing the following formula:3

LVEF (%)=75.5 – 2.5xEPSS (mm)

Keep in mind that aortic insufficiency and mitral stenosis can affect the accuracy of this formula.1

As for assessing the LV chamber diameter and wall thickness, recall that these parameters are also dynamic throughout the cardiac cycle. In systole, LV diameter should decrease by 30-40% while LV wall thickness should increase by approximately 40%. Using this as a guide, you can perform qualitative assessment by “eyeballing” the LV systolic function in parasternal long axis, parasternal short axis, apical 4-chamber and subcostal 4-chamber views. Beware that in parasternal long axis, apical 4-chamber and subcostal 4-chamber views, off axis of images can foreshorten the chamber size, resulting in overestimation of systolic function. Also be sure to use the midventricular papillary muscle view when assessing systolic function in the parasternal short axis.1   

Once you have obtained all the necessary images, feel free to categorize the systolic function as either “hyperdynamic”, “normal”, “reduced” or “severely reduced” (watch video below).1

Bonus pearl:  Did you know that qualitative assessment of the LV systolic function  following brief training sessions have been shown to significantly correlate with that obtained by formal echocardiography (k = 0.77, p <0.001).1,4,5 

Contributed by Woo Moon, D.O, Director POCUS Training Program, Mercy-St. Louis Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri

Figure: EPSS in normal vs reduced EF 

Note: EPSS (yellow arrows) is narrow in normal but wide in reduced EF

Video: Four categories of systolic function

 

References

  1. Soni MD MS NJ, Arntfield MD FRCPC R, Kory MD MPA P. Point of Care Ultrasound. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2019. . https://www.elsevier.com/books/point-of-care-ultrasound/soni/978-0-323-54470-2
  2. Kimura BJ, Yogo N, O’Connell CW, Phan JN, Showalter BK, Wolfson T. Cardiopulmonary limited ultrasound examination for “quick-look” bedside application. Am J Cardiol 2011;108(4):586–90. https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0002-9149(11)01424-X
  3. Silverstein JR, Laffely NH, Rifkin RD. Quantitative estimation of left ventricular ejection fraction from mitral valve E-point to septal separation and comparison to magnetic resonance imaging. Am J Cardiol 2006;97(1):137–40. https://www.ajconline.org/article/S0002-9149(05)01683-8/fulltext
  4. Melamed R, Sprenkle MD, Ulstad VK, Herzog CA, Leatherman JW. Assessment of left ventricular function by intensivists using hand-held echocardiography. Chest 2009;135(6):1416–20. https://journal.chestnet.org/article/S0012-3692(09)60341-X/fulltext 
  5. Johnson BK, Tierney DM, Rosborough TK, Harris KM, Newell MC. Internal medicine point-of-care ultrasound assessment of left ventricular function correlates with formal echocardiography. J Clin Ultrasound 2016;44(2):92–9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jcu.22272

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do I assess the left ventricular (LV) systolic function by bedside point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS)?

Is lung ultrasound useful in evaluating patients with dyspnea?

Yes! Increasingly, lung ultrasound (particularly point-of-care ultrasound-POCUS) is performed at bedside to help explain the cause of dyspnea.  Here are some tips.

First, obtain images by placing the transducer in the intercostal space (usually 3 regions/hemithorax) with the orientation marker pointing cephalad. 1,2  Now look at the pleural line, the horizontal hyperechoic structure between 2 ribs  (Figure 1). To and fro movement of the pleural line reflects apposition of the visceral and parietal pleura and is a normal finding (“lung sliding”).  Then look for additional horizontal hyperechoic lines visualized deep to the pleural line (“A-lines”) which are reverberation artifacts, reflecting air below the pleura (Clip/Figure 1).2 

You should also look for vertical laser like hyperechoic artifacts that arise from the pleural line and extend to the bottom of the display which may represent  “comet tails” or “B-lines” (Clip/Figure 2).1,3,4 These are reverberation artifacts created by the acoustic impedance difference between widened, fluid filled septa and air-filled alveoli.3,5  Three or more B-lines within a single intercostal space is considered pathological.4

One of the practical uses of lung ultrasound is in the evaluation of dyspnea in a patient with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).6 The presence of lung sliding and bilateral A-lines in the absence of B-lines can help rule out pneumothorax, pneumonia and pulmonary edema and steer you toward other diagnoses (eg, COPD exacerbation) as cause of dyspnea.

You can even take it a step further. Focal unilateral B-lines suggest possible pneumonia while diffuse bilateral B-lines (interstitial syndrome) would be more consistent with pulmonary edema.

As usual, the patient’s history, physical examination and available laboratory data must be taken into consideration when interpreting lung ultrasound findings.2,4

Contributed by Woo Moon, D.O., Department of Medicine, Mercy-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

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Figure 1 

 

 

Clip 1

 

 

Figure 2

 

Clip 2

 

References

  1. Lichtenstein DA. Lung ultrasound in the critically ill. Ann Intensive Care 2014;4(1): https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24401163/&nbsp;
  2. Soni MD MS NJ, Arntfield MD FRCPC R, Kory MD MPA P. Point of Care Ultrasound. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2019.
  3. Lichtenstein DA, Mezière GA. Relevance of lung ultrasound in the diagnosis of acute respiratory failure: the BLUE protocol. Chest 2008;134(1):117–25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18403664/&nbsp;
  4. Volpicelli G, Elbarbary M, Blaivas M, et al. International evidence-based recommendations for point-of-care lung ultrasound. Intensive Care Med 2012;38(4):577–91. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22392031/&nbsp;
  5. Lichtenstein D, Mézière G, Biderman P, Gepner A, Barré O. The comet-tail artifact. An ultrasound sign of alveolar-interstitial syndrome. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1997;156(5):1640–6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9372688/
  6. Qaseem A, Etxeandia-Ikobaltzeta I, Mustafa RA, et al. Appropriate Use of Point-of-Care Ultrasonography in Patients With Acute Dyspnea in Emergency Department or Inpatient Settings: A Clinical Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med 2021;174(7):985–93. https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/m20-7844&nbsp;

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

Is lung ultrasound useful in evaluating patients with dyspnea?