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Official Journal of the Italian Society of Angiology and Vascular Pathology
Indexed/Abstracted in: EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 0,752
Online ISSN 1827-1618
CONTRAST ECHO: WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Nucifora G., Faletra F. F.
Department of Cardiology, Fondazione Cardiocentro Ticino, Lugano, Switzerland
Transthoracic echocardiography is a practical, widely available non-invasive imaging technique examining cardiac structure and function at rest and during stress. However, diagnostically useful images are not provided in a non-negligible proportion of patients, mainly because of obesity and lung disease. The use of echo-contrast agents (microbubbles consisting of high molecular weight gas encapsulated in a outer shell which have ultrasound characteristics distinctly different from those of the surrounding blood cells and heart tissue) solves these issues, providing cardiac chamber opacification and improving endocardial border definition, consequently allowing a more accurate quantification of left ventricular function. Besides improving the assessment of left ventricular function, echo-contrast agents may be used also to assess the myocardial perfusion at the capillary level, providing useful information about myocardial blood flow. Aim of the present paper is to provide an overview of the main clinical applications of contrast echocardiography, i.e. left ventricular opacification and myocardial contrast echocardiography.