Contrast Ultrasound Assessment of Skeletal Muscle Recruitable Perfusion after Permanent Left Ventricular Assist Device Implantation: Implications for Functional Recovery

Divya Soman, James Hodovan, Conrad J. Macon, Brian P. Davidson, J. Todd Belcik, James O. Mudd, Byung S. Park, Jonathan R. Lindner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: In heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), abnormal regulation of skeletal muscle perfusion contributes to reduced exercise tolerance. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that improvement in functional status after permanent left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation in patients with HFrEF is related to improvement in muscle perfusion during work, which was measured using contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS). Methods: CEUS perfusion imaging of calf muscle at rest and during low-intensity plantar flexion exercise (20 W, 0.2 Hz) was performed in patients with HFrEF (n = 22) at baseline and 3 months after placement of permanent LVADs. Parametric analysis of CEUS data was used to quantify muscle microvascular blood flow (MBF), blood volume index, and red blood cell flux rate. For subjects alive at 3 months, comparisons were made between those with New York Heart Association functional class I or II (n = 13) versus III or IV (n = 7) status after LVAD. Subjects were followed for a median of 5.7 years for mortality. Results: Echocardiographic data before and after LVAD placement and LVAD parameters were similar in subjects classified with New York Heart Association functional class I-II versus functional class III-IV after LVAD. Skeletal muscle MBF at rest and during exercise before LVAD implantation was also similar between groups. After LVAD placement, resting MBF remained similar between groups, but during exercise those with New York Heart Association functional class I or II had greater exercise MBF (111 ± 60 vs 52 ± 38 intensity units/sec, P =.03), MBF reserve (median, 4.45 [3.95 to 6.80] vs 2.22 [0.98 to 3.80]; P =.02), and percentage change in exercise MBF (median, 73% [−28% to 83%] vs −45% [−80% to 26%]; P =.03). During exercise, increases in MBF were attributable to faster microvascular flux rate, with little change in blood volume index, indicating impaired exercise-mediated microvascular recruitment. The only clinical or echocardiographic feature that correlated with post-LVAD exercise MBF was a history of diabetes mellitus. There was a trend toward better survival in patients who demonstrated improvement in muscle exercise MBF after LVAD placement (P =.05). Conclusions: CEUS perfusion imaging can quantify peripheral vascular responses to advanced therapies for HFrEF. After LVAD implantation, improvement in functional class is seen in patients with improvements in skeletal muscle exercise perfusion and flux rate, implicating a change in vasoactive substances that control resistance arteriolar tone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-502
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society of Echocardiography
Volume35
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Contrast-enhanced ultrasound
  • Heart failure
  • Left ventricular assist device
  • Muscle blood flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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