Background: A number of anterior chest wall deformities, most notably pectus excavatum (PE), may have a detrimental effect on cardiac motion and function. Interpretation of transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) and speckle-tracking echocardiography (STE) results may be hampered by the possible influence of PE on cardiac kinetics. Methods: A comprehensive search of all articles assessing cardiac function in PE individuals was carried out. Inclusion criteria were: 1) individuals aged >10 years; 2) studies providing objective assessment of chest deformity (Haller index). Studies that measured myocardial strain parameters in PE patients were also included. Results: The search (EMBASE and Medline) yielded a total of 392 studies, 36 (9.2%) of which removed as duplicates; a further 339 did not meet inclusion criteria. The full-texts of 17 studies were then analyzed. All studies concordantly reported impaired right ventricular volumes and function. With respect to left ventricle (LV), TTE studies uniformly demonstrated a significant impairment in conventional echoDoppler indices in PE individuals, whereas STE studies provided conflicting results. Importantly, LV functional alterations promptly reverted upon surgical correction of chest defect. In subjects with PE of mild-to-moderate severity, we observed that degree of anterior chest wall deformity, as noninvasively assessed by modified Haller index (MHI), was strongly associated with myocardial strain magnitude, in heterogenous cohorts of otherwise healthy PE individuals. Conclusions: Clinicians should be aware that in PE individuals, TTE and STE results may not always be indicative of intrinsic myocardial dysfunction, but may be, at least in part, influenced by artifactual and/or external chest shape determinants.
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