Transpulmonary Transit of Microbubbles During Contrast Echocardiography: Implications for Estimating Cardiac Output and Pulmonary Blood Volume

Giorgio Galanti, Ananda R. Jayaweera, Flordeliza S. Villanueva, William P. Glasheen, Suad Ismail, Sanjiv Kaul

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    We postulated that the pulmonary transit rate of sonicated albumin microbubbles, which have an intravascular rheology similar to that of red blood cells, would be directly proportional to cardiac output (CO) and inversely proportional to pulmonary blood volume (PBV). Accordingly, 4 ml of Albunex ultrasound contrast agent (0.5 billion/ml of 4.3μ bubbles) was injected into the right atrium of six dogs (Group I) during simultaneously performed two-dimensional echocardiography, and the time between the initial appearance of the bubbles in the right and left ventricle, respectively, was measured. CO was either increased (by intravenous infusion of 15 μg/kg/min of dobutamine) or decreased (by producing left ventricular ischemia or by administering 2 mg of intravenous propranolol) in a random order and microbubbles were injected again. At each stage, thermodilution CO was measured. There was a close linear relation between CO and pulmonary transit rate of Albunex in each dog with the correlation coefficient ranging from 0.79 to 0.99, with a mean of 0.92. Pulmonary blood volume was derived in each dog from the reciprocal of the slope of the regression between CO and pulmonary transit rate and varied from 106 to 261 ml in the six dogs with a mean value of 178 ± 64 ml. There was excellent interobserver and intraobserver correlation (r = 0.99 each) for determining the pulmonary transit rate of Albunex. The reproducibility of pulmonary transit rate estimation from repeated contrast injections at the same hemodynamic state in another group of six dogs (Group II) was also good (r = 0.99). It is concluded that the pulmonary transit rate of Albunex ultrasound contrast agent can be used to assess directional changes in CO and to measure pulmonary blood volume. This method may have clinical applications.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)272-278
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of the American Society of Echocardiography
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Jan 1 1993


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
    • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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