Myocardial contrast echocardiography in acute myocardial infarction. Pathophysiological background and clinical applications

Eur Heart J. 1996 Mar;17(3):344-53. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.eurheartj.a014867.


Myocardial contrast echocardiography is a technique used in experimental and clinical settings in order to visualize the pattern of intramyocardial perfusion. In the acute phase of myocardial infarction, regional absence of flow during myocardial contrast echocardiography delineates the area at risk of necrosis, while the definitive non-perfused area expresses infarct size. Reopening the infarct-related artery, which may be achieved spontaneously by thrombolysis or percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, is not a reliable indicator of intramyocardial reperfusion. If myocardial ischaemia due to coronary occlusion has been sufficiently prolonged and severe, not only myocyte viability, but also microvascular integrity is lost. Myocardial contrast echocardiography, using intracoronary injection of sonicated contrast medium, gives information about microvascular integrity and the effective presence of intramyocardial reflow. Anatomical integrity of microvasculature does not necessarily imply preserved function, and thus the microvessel vasodilating reserve may also be impaired. Myocardial contrast echocardiography has the potential to assess alterations in microvascular function, showing, in the myocardial area with reduced coronary reserve, a relatively reduced increase in echocontrast signal intensity when an intravenous vasodilator agent is administered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Media*
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnostic imaging*
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Necrosis
  • Vascular Patency


  • Contrast Media