The noninvasive evaluation of cardiac structure and function in small animals would provide a means for investigators to repeatedly evaluate treatment effects at various stages of experimental protocols. In this study, commercially available echocardiographic and Doppler equipment was utilized to evaluate hypertrophied (HYP) and normal (SH) rat hearts. Surgically induced renovascular hypertension was used to produce a 35% increase in left ventricular (LV) weight in HYP relative to SH hearts. A commercially available echocardiographic system with integral Doppler capabilities and a 7.5-mHz single-crystal mechanical transducer was used to obtain parasternal long- and short-axis images of HYP and SH hearts in anesthetized animals. HYP hearts were found to have normal systolic function, as evidenced by preserved LV systolic and diastolic dimensions and volumes as well as fractional shortening and ejection fraction. HYP hearts demonstrated a 62% increase in their echocardiographically measured LV posterior wall thicknesses and a 44% increase in calculated ventricular mass. Both parameters were reliable in predicting the presence and degree of left ventricular hypertrophy. Doppler flow velocities through the aortic root and pulmonic valve did not differ between groups, again suggesting preserved LV systolic performance. These results indicate that two-dimensional echocardiography provides a useful means to noninvasively evaluate cardiac structure and function in rats.
- Copyright © 1993 the American Physiological Society