Echocardiographic Features of Constrictive Cardiomyopathy or Pericarditis


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Echocardiographic Features of Constrictive Cardiomyopathy

Constrictive cardiomyopathy (CCM) is a rare but clinically significant condition characterized by impaired diastolic filling due to the rigid or fibrotic nature of the myocardium. Echocardiography plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and management of CCM, offering insights into the structural and functional abnormalities of the heart.

1. Septal Bounce: One of the hallmark echocardiographic findings in CCM is the presence of septal bounce. This refers to paradoxical motion of the interventricular septum, where it moves towards the left ventricle during early diastole and then recoils back towards the right ventricle during late diastole. This motion is indicative of the restrictive physiology seen in CCM.

2. Diastolic Dysfunction: Echocardiography reveals impaired diastolic filling dynamics, characterized by rapid early diastolic filling followed by a plateau and reduced late diastolic filling. This is often accompanied by elevated filling pressures in both ventricles.

3. Pericardial Effusion: CCM may be associated with pericardial effusion, which can be visualized using echocardiography. Although pericardial effusion is not specific to CCM, its presence can aid in the diagnostic process and assessment of disease severity.

4. Respiratory Variation: Doppler echocardiography can demonstrate respiratory variation in mitral and tricuspid inflow velocities, known as the "ventricular interdependence" phenomenon. This occurs due to the exaggerated respiratory changes in intrathoracic pressure, leading to alterations in ventricular filling dynamics.

5. Thickened Pericardium: Echocardiography can also reveal thickening of the pericardium, which is a characteristic feature of chronic constrictive pericarditis. Although not specific to CCM, it can aid in distinguishing between different etiologies of restrictive cardiomyopathy.

6. Cardiac Chamber Dimensions: Echocardiography allows for the assessment of cardiac chamber dimensions, including the size of the atria and ventricles. In CCM, the atria may be enlarged due to chronically elevated filling pressures, whereas the ventricles may exhibit normal or reduced dimensions.

7. Differential Diagnosis: Echocardiography helps in differentiating CCM from other causes of restrictive cardiomyopathy, such as restrictive cardiomyopathy due to infiltrative diseases or myocardial fibrosis. Careful assessment of myocardial thickness, pericardial involvement, and ventricular function aids in making an accurate diagnosis.

In summary, echocardiography plays a pivotal role in the diagnosis and management of constrictive cardiomyopathy by providing valuable information about cardiac structure, function, and hemodynamics. Recognition of characteristic echocardiographic features is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of this challenging condition.