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G. Karatasakis

and G.D. Athanassopoulos

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date: 23 October 2021

Echocardiography is a key diagnostic method in the management of patients with cardiomyopathies.

The main echocardiographic findings of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are asymmetric hypertrophy of the septum, increased echogenicity of the myocardium, systolic anterior motion, turbulent left ventricular (LV) outflow tract blood flow, intracavitary gradient of dynamic nature, mid-systolic closure of the aortic valve and mitral regurgitation. The degree of hypertrophy and the magnitude of the obstruction have prognostic meaning. Echocardiography plays a fundamental role not only in diagnostic process, but also in management of patients, prognostic stratification, and evaluation of therapeutic intervention effects.

In idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, echocardiography reveals dilation and impaired contraction of the LV or both ventricles. The biplane Simpson’s method incorporates much of the shape of the LV in calculation of volume; currently, three-dimensional echocardiography accurately evaluates LV volumes. Deformation parameters might be used for detection of early ventricular involvement. Stress echocardiography using dobutamine or dipyridamole may contribute to risk stratification, evaluating contractile reserve and left anterior descending flow reserve. LV dyssynchrony assessment is challenging and in patients with biventricular pacing already applied, optimization of atrio-interventricular delays should be done. Specific characteristics of right ventricular dysplasia and isolated LV non-compaction can be recognized, resulting in an increasing frequency of their prevalence. Rare forms of cardiomyopathy related with neuromuscular disorders can be studied at an earlier stage of ventricular involvement.

Restrictive and infiltrative cardiomyopathies are characterized by an increase in ventricular stiffness with ensuing diastolic dysfunction and heart failure. A variety of entities may produce this pathological disturbance with amyloidosis being the most prevalent. Storage diseases (Fabry, Gaucher, Hurler) are currently treatable and early detection of ventricular involvement is of paramount importance for successful treatment. Traditional differentiation between constrictive pericarditis (surgically manageable) and the rare cases of restrictive cardiomyopathy should be properly performed.

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