Objectives: This study attempted to determine the site, relative size and dynamic geometry of atrial septal defects using dynamic three-dimensional echocardiography.
Background: Recent studies have demonstrated the feasibility of dynamic three-dimensional echocardiography. Images are acquired from computerized reconstruction of sequential, tomographic ultrasound "slices" of the heart. Ultrasound images can be obtained by linear progression of a transducer within a transesophageal imaging probe. In small infants and children the large transducer size has not allowed transesophageal placement, and the probe has been placed on the thorax or in the subcostal position. Other scanning devices, housed in plastic containers, acquire images in a rotational format and can also be placed in a transthoracic or subcostal position.
Methods: Specially designed transesophageal probes and a dedicated computer unit were used for two-dimensional image retrieval and reconstruction of three-dimensional images. Sixteen patients with atrial septal defects were studied (median age 18 months, range 1 day to 18 years). In one patient, images were obtained by transesophageal probe placement; in the other 15 patients, the probe was placed in the transthoracic or subcostal position.
Results: A dynamic three-dimensional echocardiogram of the atrial septal defect could be obtained in 13 of the 16 patients. The distinguishing features of the atrial septal defects and their spatial orientation could be visualized in unique three-dimensional views.
Conclusions: Dynamic three-dimensional imaging could be applied to the specific evaluation of atrial septal defects. Unique views of the heart allowed for spatial comprehension of the defects, rendering potentially important clinical information.