Current role of contrast echocardiography in the diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases

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The use of contrast echocardiography (CE) in cardiovascular medicine has grown significantly over the last 15 years. Depending on the site of injection, contrast enhancement of the right- or left-sided cardiac chambers or myocardium now can be achieved. Contrast echocardiography can improve the evaluation of patients with valvular heart disease by enhancing the Doppler signal; CE also improves detection of intracardiac or intrapulmonary shunts. In patients with coronary artery disease, enhancement of the endocardial blood-tissue boundary allows for improved visualization of endocardial wall motion, assessment of wall thickening, and calculation of ejection fraction. Contrast echocardiography promises to delineate myocardial perfusion and has the potential for quantitating coronary flow and assessing myocardial viability. These applications may add important physiologic information to the anatomic information readily available from noncontrast echocardiography. Because it can be rapidly performed at the bedside, CE may be a valuable tool for use with inpatients with acute myocardial ischemia. When CE has been used after recanalization of occluded coronary arteries, the assessment of myocardial salvage conveys information concerning reflow, stunning, and prognosis, and in the case of an angioplasty it provides immediate information regarding the success of the procedure. Contrast echocardiography can also assess myocardial areas at risk of irreversible damage and the presence or absence of collateral flow. When performed with transesophageal or epicardial echocardiography in the operating room, CE is emerging as a valuable tool in the assessment of cardioplegia distribution and graft patency as well as in the delineation of the regional supply of each graft. With the continued development of newer contrast agents and refinement of ultrasound imaging equipment, the applications of CE will continue to grow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)I31-I38
JournalClinical Cardiology
Issue number10 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Contrast agents
  • Contrast echocardiography
  • Diagnostics
  • Doppler
  • Gray scale
  • Myocardial perfusion
  • Stress echocardiography
  • Viability
  • Visualization
  • Wall motion


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