Use of harmonic imaging without echocardiographic contrast to improve two-dimensional image quality

Am J Cardiol. 1998 Sep 15;82(6):794-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(98)00457-3.


The aim of this study was to determine whether harmonic imaging (HI) improves endocardial visualization during 2-dimensional echocardiography without echocardiographic contrast. HI differs from fundamental imaging (FI) by transmitting ultrasound at one frequency and receiving at twice the transmitted frequency. This technique has been used in conjunction with contrast echocardiography to enhance myocardial contrast visualization. HI and FI were sequentially performed in 20 patients. Images were digitally stored and subsequently reviewed by 2 observers for the quality of endocardial visualization. In addition, acoustic quantification was performed in both FI and HI modes and endocardial tracking qualitatively judged. HI was compared with FI during dobutamine stress echocardiography in 17 patients who were imaged at baseline and peak stress. Overall, the harmonic images had less clutter and better myocardial blood contrast. Individual segments were better visualized with HI in 30% to 73% of cases. The acoustic quantification endocardial tracking was rated better with HI in 67% of short-axis views and in 58% of apical 4-chamber views. During dobutamine stress testing the overall number of interpretable segments improved from 64% for FI to 84% with HI. Many segments traditionally difficult to image were improved with HI. HI without the use of contrast agents improved endocardial visualization during routine 2-dimensional echocardiography. This improved endocardial visualization led to better endocardial tracking with acoustic quantification and to more segments being clinically interpretable during dobutamine stress testing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Contrast Media
  • Dobutamine
  • Echocardiography / methods*
  • Endocardium / diagnostic imaging
  • Exercise Test
  • Heart Ventricles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Myocardial Contraction
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ventricular Function


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Contrast Media
  • Dobutamine