Imaging of the heart: historical perspective and recent advances

Postgrad Med J. 2016 Feb;92(1084):99-104. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2015-133831. Epub 2015 Dec 8.


Correct diagnosis must be made before appropriate treatment can be given. The aim of cardiac imaging is to establish cardiac diagnosis as accurate as possible and to avert unnecessary invasive procedures. There are many different modalities of cardiac imaging and each of them has advanced tremendously throughout the past decades. Echocardiography, as the first-line modality in most clinical circumstances, has progressed from two-dimensional, single-planed M-mode in the 1960s to three-dimensional speckle tracking echocardiography nowadays. Cardiac computed tomography angiogram (CCTA) has revolutionised the management of coronary artery disease as it allows clinicians to visualise the coronary arteries without performing an invasive angiogram. Because of the high negative predictive value, CCTA plays an important reassuring role in acute chest pain management. The greatest strength of cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) is that it provides information in tissue characterization. It is the modality of choice in assessing myocardial viability and myocardial infiltration such as haemochromatosis or amyloidosis. Each of these modalities has its own strengths and limitations. In fact, they are complementing each other in different clinical settings. Cardiac imaging will continue to advance and, not long from now, we will not need invasive procedures to make an accurate cardiac diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnosis*
  • Echocardiography* / instrumentation
  • Echocardiography* / methods
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Heart Valve Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography* / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography* / methods
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / instrumentation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods