OBJECTIVES: Symptomatic cardiac involvement is a frequent visceral complication of systemic sclerosis that can affect the overall prognosis of the disease. The aim of the present study was to detect preclinical myocardial alterations in patients with systemic sclerosis using ultrasonic videodensitometric analysis.METHODS: Fifty patients with systemic sclerosis [five men, aged 48.8 +/- 11 years (mean +/- SD), range 22-65 years] with normal left ventricular function and 25 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were investigated. Exclusion criteria were the presence of positive maximal exercise stress, arterial hypertension, renal involvement and diabetes. Echocardiographic images were digitized using a real-time video-digitizer Quantitative texture analysis was performed on data from the septum and posterior wall, and mean gray level (MGL) histograms at both end-diastole (d) and end-systole (s) were obtained. The cyclic variation index (CVI) was calculated according to the formula [(MGLd - MGLs)/MGLd] x 100. Left ventricular mass, body surface corrected, was calculated according to the Penn convention.RESULTS: The pattern of variations of mean gray level during the cardiac cycle was totally different from that of the controls; this finding, probably related to myocardial fibrosis, was detected in the large majority of patients with systemic sclerosis (90%). In particular, CVI, which is the expression of the intrinsic myocardial structural function, was significantly lower than in controls (septum -31 +/- 38% versus 36 +/- 9%, P < 0.0001; and posterior wall -19 +/- 33% versus 51 +/- 20%, P < 0.0001).CONCLUSIONS: Ultrasonic videodensitometric analysis is a non-invasive, feasible method of detecting myocardial alterations in patients with systemic sclerosis, which could be related to both fibrosis and microcirculatory abnormalities. The potential role of these abnormalities in the pathogenesis of ventricular dysfunction should be investigated further.
Ultrasonic videodensitometric analysis in scleroderma heart disease / Di Bello, V; Ferri, Clodoveo; Giorgi, D; Bianchi, M; Bertini, A; Martini, A; Storino, Fa; Paterni, M; Pasero, G; Giusti, C.. - In: CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE. - ISSN 0954-6928. - STAMPA. - 10:(1999), pp. 103-110.