Echocardiogram with Myocardial Strain

Echocardiography is one of the most common noninvasive tools used in cardiology, while strain imaging is an additional method to assess the function of the myocardium, the middle muscular layer of the heart. “Echocardiographic deformation imaging” is another name for an echocardiogram with strain.  The term "deformation" refers to the myocardium changing shape and dimensions during the cardiac cycle.

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What is Echocardiogram with Strain used for?

This test is used to: 

  • study diseases of the myocardium
  • gain greater understanding into the pathophysiology of cardiac ischemia and infarction
  • understand the effects of valvular disease on myocardial function
  • advance our understanding of diastolic function
  • help heart failure patients undergoing cardiac resynchronization pacing therapy
  • screen and follow up with people who receive cardio-toxic medications during cancer treatment.
  • evaluate people who have received radiation to their chest
  • evaluate and monitor people who have chemotherapy, heart disease or pericardial disease
  • screen and follow patients who receive cardio-toxic medications during cancer treatment
  • evaluate patients who have received radiation to the chest

How does Echocardiography with Strain work?

An echocardiogram with strain using a technique called speckle tracking, which analyzes the motion of tissues in the heart by using the naturally occurring speckle pattern in the myocardium or blood when imaged by ultrasound. It helps identify subtle changes not evident by other imaging methods by assessing deformation directly in the myocardium. We can measure heart muscle length during contraction and relaxation. Understanding these issues involving how your heart moves allows us to make an earlier diagnosis and help determine the best possible outcome for the condition.

How do I prepare for an Echocardiogram with Strain?

There is no major preparation for an echocardiogram with strain exam. Just a few things to keep in mind.

  • You may eat and drink as you normally would on the day of the test.
  • Take all your prescribed medications at the usual times.
  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing.
  • Do not wear jewelry.
  • Be sure to bring your prescription, insurance card and photo ID.

What can I expect during the echocardiogram with strain test?

The test takes about one hour. During an echocardiogram with strain, a cardiac sonographer will:

  • Place three electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) on your chest. The electrodes send information to an electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor that charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
  • Ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table, sometimes with your left arm above your head.
  • Place a device called a transducer on several areas of your chest. The end of the device will have a small amount of gel on it, but it won’t harm your skin. This gel helps produce clearer pictures.
  • Ask you to change positions several times during the exam so the sonographer can take pictures of different areas of your heart.
  • Ask you to hold your breath at times.

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