Speckle tracking echocardiography (STE) has recently emerged as a quantitative technique to accurately estimate myocardial function. By the analysis of the motion of speckles in the two-dimensional ultrasonic image, this technique allows a non-Doppler angle-independent objective analysis of myocardial deformation, with the possibility to quantify thickening, shortening and rotation dynamics of cardiac function. Since this technique does not require Doppler imaging, the analysis is relatively angle-independent and is marginally affected by cardiac in-plane motion artifacts. Data regarding feasibility, reproducibility and diagnostic accuracy appear to be optimal in several clinical contexts. This review describes the fundamental concepts of deformation imaging, explains how to obtain myocardial deformation measurements in clinical practice and highlights current clinical applications of STE. In addition, in relation with the recent extension of STE to three-dimensional echocardiography with the potential for a more comprehensive analysis of global and segmental myocardial function, a window is also opened on the perspectives of three-dimensional STE.
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine