Despite continued improvements in imaging technology, transthoracic echocardiography does not reliably provide images adequate for interpretation in all patients. In these patients, the administration of ultrasound contrast agents can markedly enhance the diagnostic utility of the test. Contrast echocardiography relies on the ultrasound detection of contrast agents composed of encapsulated microbubbles that are generally smaller than red blood cells. Intravenous administration of microbubble contrast agents results in left ventricular opacification and facilitates delineation of the endocardial border. This procedure has been shown to consistently increase the number of myocardial segments that can be interpreted, to improve accuracy of assessing regional and global left ventricular function, to decrease interinterpreter variability, to increase interpreter confidence, and to be a cost-effective strategy. Accordingly, patient selection for contrast echocardiography should be based not only on adequacy of the baseline images, but also on the clinical question being asked.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Leadership and Management
- Health Policy
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine