Imaging the right ventricle--current state of the art

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2010 Oct;7(10):551-63. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2010.118. Epub 2010 Aug 10.


The right ventricle has long been the 'forgotten ventricle', as it is difficult to image owing to its complex morphology, its thin wall with coarse trabeculations, and its anterior position within the chest. Developments in cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) and echocardiography have provided new insights into right ventricular (RV) structure and function. RV performance seems to be an important determinant of clinical status and long-term outcome in patients with pulmonary hypertension, cardiomyopathies, and, especially, in patients with congenital heart disease. A variety of different parameters can be measured to assess RV function, but a lot of uncertainty remains on how to assess RV performance in daily clinical practice and which measurements to use in clinical decision-making. CMR is currently considered the reference technique for RV volumetry and calculation of ejection fraction. Various echocardiographic techniques can provide reliable information on RV dimensions and RV systolic and diastolic function that can be used in clinical follow-up. The introduction of newer echocardiographic techniques, such as three-dimensional echocardiography, tissue Doppler ultrasonography, and ultrasound strain imaging, challenge the leading role of CMR in RV functional assessment, but further validation and accumulation of data are required before these techniques can play a key part in clinical decision-making.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Contrast Media
  • Diastole
  • Disease Progression
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Echocardiography, Three-Dimensional
  • Heart Ventricles / anatomy & histology*
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine / instrumentation*
  • Prognosis
  • Stroke Volume / physiology
  • Systole
  • Ventricular Function, Left / physiology
  • Ventricular Function, Right / physiology*


  • Contrast Media