Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy vol:32 issue:1-2 pages:5-16
The assessment of cardiac pump function and the potential of local myocardium to contribute to the overall performance are of great importance in many cardiovascular abnormalities. Assessing intrinsic cardiac function requires obtaining information on the true contractility of the heart muscle, assessed locally but interpreted in the context of its contribution to the global ejection performance and potential to adapt to changing circumstances. Contemporary imaging techniques offer the possibility of noninvasive quantification of myocardial deformation. These new clinical tools are attractive to use for the assessment of ventricular function. However, it is of great importance to understand cardiac mechanics - a complex interplay between the tissue structure/shape, force development, and interaction with the environment/neighbors - to interpret alterations in deformation and to extract clinically relevant conclusions. The combination of insight into the measurement techniques and their limitations, together with knowledge of myocardial mechanics and physiology, opens new perspectives to improve the assessment and management of fetal, pediatric, and adult patients.