What is regional wall motion abnormality?

Regional wall motion abnormality (RWMA) is a term commonly used in echocardiography (ultrasound imaging of the heart). It can also be applied to other modalities used to image motion of the cardiac structures like cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR). Regional wall motion abnormality means that the motion of a region of the heart muscle is abnormal. It can reduced (hypokinesia), absent (akinesia) or increased (hyperkinesia). Occasionally it can be opposite of what is expected; moving out in systole rather than moving in. This type of abnormal motion is seen termed dyskinesia. The regional wall motion abnormalities give a hint to the coronary arteries (blood vessels giving oxygenated blood to the heart muscle) which are diseased. For example, if the lower region (inferior wall) of the left ventricle (lower muscular chamber of the heart)  is hypokinetic, this means that the right coronary artery is involved.

If the whole left ventricle is hypokinetic, then it is called global hypokinesia. This occurs in dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease which weakens the pumping function of the heart. Then it is not a regional wall motion abnormality, but a global abnormality of the whole left ventricle.