BACKGROUND: Visual assessment of wall motion abnormalities (WMA) by 2-dimensional echocardiography (2DE) is the most semi-quantitative method used to detect coronary artery disease (CAD), but it carries many limitations. Speckle tracking echocardiography (STE) overcomes these limitations and allows an objective quantification of myocardial deformation. The aim of the study to examine the accuracy of global and segmental longitudinal strain (LS) for the detection of CAD compared with visual assessment of WMA using coronary angiography as a golden standard. METHODS: The study enrolled 25 patients (mean age 51.0 +/- 8.7, 64% are male) referred to coronary angiography with clinical suspicion of CAD. 2DE assessment of WMA and evaluation of LS using STE were performed using left ventricular 17-segments models. Significant CAD was defined as > or = 50% stenosis in one or more major coronary arteries by angiography. RESULTS: Patients were classified into 2 groups: group I included 15 patients with significant CAD and group II included 10 patients with insignificant and/or absence of CAD. WM score was strongly correlated with the global LS in group I and II (R = 0.80, p < 0.0001 and R = 0.88, p < 0.0001 respectively). In all patients, 425 segments were analyzed. WMA was detected in 163 segments of 425 (38.3%) while abnormal LS was detected in 214 segments (50.3%). Compared with coronary angiography, the total sensitivity, specificity and accuracy for visual analysis and STE were (56%, 88.2%, and 60% vs. 68.6%, 77%, and 81.8% respectively). CONCLUSION: Segmental LS is more accurate for the detection of ischemic myocardial segment corresponding to functionally relevant coronary anatomy than visual assessment of WM.