Chronic pulmonary disease is associated with varying degrees of cardiac dysfunction. Because of the potentially predominant effect of severe lung disease on right ventricular (RV) size and function, a reliable method to assess RV mechanics before and after lung transplantation may provide information of long-term significance and/or prognosis. Conventional invasive and non-invasive imaging methods have a number of limitations in evaluating RV function. Ultrafast computed tomographic (ultrafast CT) scanning has been shown to provide quantitative assessment of RV and left ventricular (LV) function in individuals with and without cardiac disease. Twenty-two patients presenting during evaluation for possible lung transplantation with end-stage pulmonary disease formed the basis of this study. There were 14 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 8 with pulmonary fibrosis. Conventional transthoracic echocardiography and ultrafast CT were used for the assessment of RV and LV function. All patients had invasive assessment of right-sided hemodynamics and pulmonary function studies performed within 7-10 days of cardiac imaging. A qualitative assessment of RV size or function was possible in all but two patients by echocardiogram, but in 45%, the echo-cardiographic examination was described as suboptimal. In contrast, a quantitative assessment of ventricular volumes and systolic function was obtained in all patients by ultrafast CT. Pulmonary function parameters or hemodynamic measurements obtained during cardiac catheterization did not correlate with any assessment of RV function. We concluded that (1) ultrafast CT provides measurement of the RV and LV cavity dimension and systolic function; (2) invasive right-sided hemodynamics or pulmonary function studies do not predict RV function; and (3) echocardiography does not uniformly provide assessment of RV function in patients with chronic pulmonary disease.
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