Impact of three-dimensional echocardiography in valvular heart disease
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Recent advances in the field of three-dimensional (3D) echocardiography have allowed improved visualization of cardiac structures. These advances have also provided valuable insights into cardiac function. The purpose of this review is to describe the recent developments in 3D echocardiography in assessing valvular heart disease. RECENT FINDINGS: Application of 3D echocardiography to valvular heart disease has improved with advances made in both the hardware and software components of 3D ultrasound systems. The most significant advancement has been the development of a matrix transducer that is capable of rapid real-time 3D acquisition and rendering. There have been many studies evaluating 3D echocardiographic assessment of mitral valve disease, aortic valve disease, as well as congenital heart disease using both real-time 3D transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) as well as off-line reconstructed 3D images from transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) using post image processing. More recent studies have combined the structural 3D information with color Doppler 3D imaging, providing qualitative functional information. SUMMARY: Developments in the field of 3D ultrasound imaging have allowed better qualitative assessment of valvular structures. The addition of color flow Doppler to the 3D imaging has provided improved visualization of regurgitant lesions and holds great promise for improved quantitative assessment of such lesions. The ongoing miniaturization of transducers and improvements in hardware and software components of ultrasound systems will certainly enhance both the ease of image acquisition as well as image quality, which should result in more precise quantitation of valvular dysfunction. However, clinical benefits of 3D echocardiography are yet to be demonstrated in properly conducted clinical trials, which are needed for wider acceptance of this technique.
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