Improvement in Endocardial Border Delineation Using Tissue Harmonic Imaging

Echocardiography. 1998 Jul;15(5):511-518. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8175.1998.tb00642.x.


BACKGROUND AND METHODS: For years, tissue has been assumed to be a linear medium in diagnostic ultrasound applications; thus, no backscattered signals in the second harmonic band are expected in harmonic imaging without the injection of a contrast agent. However, it has been shown that a useful tissue image is formed even without a contrast agent. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether this tissue harmonic image provided improved visualization of endocardial borders. Fifty-six adult patients with various heart diseases were investigated using conventional two-dimensional echocardiography and tissue harmonic imaging. In 30 of these patients, the left ventricular endocardial borders were well defined in the standard parasternal and apical views using conventional two-dimensional echocardiography. In the remaining 26 patients, delineation of endocardial borders was not possible in at least two segments. The equipment used was an ATL HDI-3000 diagnostic system equipped with harmonic imaging. RESULTS: In all 56 patients, the myocardium and valves could be imaged with tissue harmonic imaging. Harmonic recordings were sharper and contained fewer clutter artifacts than conventional recordings. Most striking was the enhancement of left ventricular endocardial borders. In the 26 patients with incomplete delineation of left ventricular endocardial borders, wall motion could be evaluated in 290 of 312 (93%) segments with tissue harmonic imaging compared with only 168 of 312 (54%) segments with conventional echocardiography (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Tissue harmonic imaging improves image quality and can be used to enhance the definition of left ventricular endocardial borders. These findings can be explained by the nonlinear propagation of ultrasound within the tissue, which results in distortion of the transmitted signal and, thus, harmonic generation.