Stanford Echocardiography Core Imaging and Translational Research (SPECTR)

The Stanford Pediatric Echo Core Imaging and Translational Research Center (SPECTR), housed at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health’s Division of Pediatric Cardiology, serves as the premier research laboratory for patients of the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center and for national and international studies on children. SPECTR helps advance the field of research in children with heart conditions to improve clinical care and outcomes.

SPECTR is a nationally and internationally regarded core research laboratory, known for providing high-quality reviews and analyses of imaging studies from multicenter clinical trials, with a sophisticated, detailed research infrastructure. Research organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health and respected national and global medical technology companies, entrust SPECTR with the analyses of their imaging data that are often clinical end points.

Highlights of the SPECTR lab

  • Quality-controlled, standardized approach.
  • Multimodality services.
  • Clinical and research experts in the field of pediatric cardiac imaging and vascular health.
  • Industry- and government-sponsored studies.
  • Multicenter studies.

SPECTR services

  • Analyze several types of echocardiograms (stress, 2-D, 3-D, tele, fetal) as well as data from noninvasive vascular studies.
  • Analyze cross-sectional imaging studies, including cardiac MRI.
  • Provide consultation on echo research protocols, design, and workflow.
  • Guide institutional review board submissions and other data transfer agreements.
  • Provide quality control.

Featured current research studies

Many of our studies translate to better care for our patients, including some of these current and recent studies.

COMPASS PHN-sponsored multicenter study

SPECTR laboratory was selected to serve as the echocardiography core laboratory for the COMPASS (COmparison of Methods for Pulmonary Blood Flow Augmentation in Neonates: Shunt versus Stent) trial. This trial, sponsored by the Pediatric Heart Network, the National Institutes of Health, and the Congenital Cardiac Research Collaborative, is comparing a minimally invasive procedure (PDA stent) with the standard of care surgery (systemic to pulmonary artery shunt) in babies born without sufficient blood flow to their lungs. SPECTR will be analyzing all echocardiograms performed across the 23 centers for this three-year-long randomized clinical trial.

Industry-sponsored transcatheter pulmonary valve study

Our SPECTR laboratory was recently selected as the core laboratory for a multicenter, industry-sponsored clinical trial. The SPECTR team will review data on the trialed use of a transcatheter pulmonary valve for congenital heart disease conditions, including patients with history of tetralogy of Fallot. This international study will run for 10 years and collect long-term data from 150 subjects across 30 centers. It is an interventional, nonrandomized study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the valve via echocardiography and MRI. SPECTR is responsible for analysis of all the imaging studies.


This is an NIH-funded randomized clinical intervention study (contact principal investigator: Seda Tierney, MD) that evaluates whether exercise can improve not only the quality of life but also long-term outcomes in children and adolescents with Fontan circulation. The aim of this study is to evaluate whether a live-video-supervised exercise intervention can improve cardiac and physical capacity, endothelial function, and muscle mass and function in children and adolescents with Fontan circulation. During each study visit, our team of experts will perform a comprehensive assessment of cardiac and physical capacity, endothelial function, and muscle strength and mass of our Fontan study patients. SPECTR provides strain echo imaging and endothelial function testing following the specific study protocols. The study runs for five years and includes 525 study visits.

EPOCH study

The EPOCH (Effect of Preeclampsia On Cardiovascular Health) study (NIH funded) investigates potential pathways across the life course that link preeclampsia during pregnancy to increased risk of heart disease and stroke decades later. This study could improve identification of women at elevated risk of heart disease, suggest new interventions to reduce that risk, and advance personalized care of women with a history of preeclampsia. Principal investigators Mark Hlatky and Virginia Winn at the Stanford University School of Medicine hope to identify biomarkers of preeclampsia that persist after pregnancy and are related to the health of a woman’s vascular system. The EPOCH study will enroll 400 women at Stanford. SPECTR’s role is to provide vascular health testing to these participants, which includes endothelial function testing and carotid ultrasound.

Maternal hyperoxygenation kinetics study

Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center’s Michelle Kaplinski, MD, is the principal investigator for a prospective study aimed to establish dosing parameters for the use of maternal hyperoxygenation to affect the blood flow of the fetus. Many centers across the world—including our own—use oxygen as both a diagnostic strategy and a therapy for various fetal heart diseases. Although oxygen has been used in this setting for decades, there is not clear understanding of what the effects of various doses of oxygen are, and how long the effects of oxygen last. SPECTR is responsible for high-quality acquisition of these fetal echocardiograms in a standardized fashion, following the specific research protocol.