The aim of this study is to investigate the inter and intra-rater reliability, repeatability, and reproducibility of pulmonary transit time (PTT) measurement in patients using contrast enhanced ultrasound (CEUS), as an indirect measure of preload and left ventricular function.
Mean transit times (MTT) were measured by drawing a region of interest (ROI) in right and left cardiac ventricle in the CEUS loops. Acoustic intensity dilution curves were obtained from the ROIs. MTTs were calculated by applying model-based fitting on the dilution curves. PTT was calculated as the difference of the MTTs. Eight raters with different levels of experience measured the PTT (time moment 1) and repeated the measurement within a week (time moment 2). Reliability and agreement were assessed using intra-class correlations (ICC) and Bland-Altman analysis. Repeatability was tested by estimating the variance of means (ANOVA) of three injections in each patient at different doses. Reproducibility was tested by the ICC of the two time moments.
Fifteen patients with heart failure were included. The mean PTT was 11.8 ± 3.1 s at time moment 1 and 11.7 ± 2.9 s at time moment 2. The inter-rater reliability for PTT was excellent (ICC = 0.94). The intra-rater reliability per rater was between 0.81–0.99. Bland-Altman analysis revealed a bias of 0.10 s within the rater groups. Reproducibility for PTT showed an ICC = 0.94 between the two time moments. ANOVA showed no significant difference between the means of the three different doses F = 0.048 (P = 0.95). The mean and standard deviation for PTT estimates at three different doses was 11.6 ± 3.3 s.
PTT estimation using CEUS shows a high inter- and intra-rater reliability, repeatability at three different doses, and reproducibility by ROI drawing. This makes the minimally invasive PTT measurement using contrast echocardiography ready for clinical evaluation in patients with heart failure and for preload estimation.
- Contrast enhanced ultrasound
- Indicator dilution technique
- Intra-class correlation
- Mean transit time
- Pulmonary transit time