The clinical applications of contrast echocardiography

Eur J Echocardiogr. 2007 Jun;8(3):S13-23. doi: 10.1016/j.euje.2007.03.021.

Abstract

Ultrasound contrast agents are approved for opacification of the heart chambers and to improve endocardial border definition. The myocardial contrast enhancement is also very useful for assessing thickening of the myocardium and myocardial perfusion. Several multicentre and numerous single-centre trials have demonstrated the usefulness of contrast echocardiography in clinical practice. Contrast echocardiography is probably one of the best validated echocardiographic techniques. Improved accuracy of contrast-enhanced images is not restricted to patients with a poor baseline image quality. Even with an optimal baseline image quality the borders are not as well defined as after LV opacification. Usage of contrast can improve image alignment and helps to avoid off-axis scanning. Contrast studies are particularly useful when a precise measurement of LV function is needed: 1. To decide about the need of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT), 2. Follow-up of patients with moderate valvular disease and decision for surgical treatment, 3. Selection and monitoring of patients undergoing chemotherapy with cardiotoxic drugs, 4. Assessment of LV function in patients in intensive care and coronary care units. Optimal endocardial border delineation is crucial and often can be achieved only by ultrasound contrast: 1. Assessment of LV thrombi and masses, 2. Left ventricular non-compaction/apical hypertrophy, 3. Right ventricular dysplasia, right ventricular thrombus, 4. Stress echocardiography and regional wall motion assessment. Future echocardiography will be more 3D and more quantitative than current echocardiography. And contrast echocardiography has already proven its value for both applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Echocardiography, Stress
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Stroke Volume*
  • Systole

Substances

  • Contrast Media