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MINERVA CARDIOANGIOLOGICA

A Journal on Heart and Vascular Diseases


Official Journal of the Italian Society of Angiology and Vascular Pathology
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  CONTRAST ECHO: WHERE ARE WE NOW?


Minerva Cardioangiologica 2011 October;59(5):519-32

Copyright © 2011 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Current applications of contrast echocardiography

Nucifora G., Faletra F. F.

Department of Cardiology, Fondazione Cardiocentro Ticino, Lugano, Switzerland


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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.

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gaetano.nucifora@cardiocentro.org