This study aims to systematically review the incidence of myocardial strain detected by echocardiography in previously healthy infants with acute bronchiolitis and its role as a predictor for adverse outcomes in this setting. Methods: Pubmed/Medline, Excerpta Medica Data Base (EMBASE), and Cochrane Library were searched in April 2020 to identify original observational prospective studies that systematically performed echocardiography for the screening of myocardial strain in healthy infants with acute bronchiolitis. Pooled estimates were generated using random-effects models. Heterogeneity within studies was assessed using Cochran’s Q and I2
statistics. Funnel plots and Egger´s regression method were constructed to evaluate publication bias. Sensitivity analyses were also conducted to evaluate potential sources of heterogeneity. Results: After a detailed screening of 305 articles, a total of 10 studies with 395 participants (mean of 40 participants per study) was included. Five of them were classified as high-quality studies. Up to 28% of cases presented adverse outcomes. The echocardiographic screening for myocardial strain was performed within the first 24 h of admission in 92% cases. Tissue Doppler imaging and Speckle-Tracking echocardiography were performed only in 20% of cases. The presence of pulmonary hypertension was evaluated with methods different from the tricuspid regurgitation jet in 64% of cases. Seven studies found some grade of myocardial strain with a pooled incidence of 21% (CI 95%, 11–31%), in the form of pulmonary hypertension (pooled incidence of 20% (CI 95%, 11–30%)), and myocardial dysfunction (pooled incidence of 5% (CI 95%, 1–9%)). The presence of these echocardiographic alterations was associated with adverse outcomes (pooled relative risk = 16; CI 95%, 8.2–31.5). After a subgroup analysis based on the echocardiographic techniques used, no significant heterogeneity across the studies was observed. There was no evidence of publication bias when assessed by Egger´s test. Cardiac biomarkers to assess myocardial strain were used in five studies. Only N-terminal-pro-brain natriuretic peptide accurately predicted the presence of myocardial strain by echocardiography. Conclusions: Myocardial strain is not infrequent in previously healthy infants with acute bronchiolitis, and it could be present at the early stages of the disease with prognostic implications. There is a need for sufficiently powered prospective studies with a similar methodology, preferably employing advanced imaging techniques, to conclusively address the usefulness of the assessment of myocardial strain in this setting.
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