ASE: Contrast cardiac ultrasound increases the confidence of decision-making

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Cardiac ultrasound exams performed with ultrasound contrast agents can result in more targeted therapy, according to a study released at the 2008 American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) meeting held in Toronto this week.

Researchers sought to prove that the use of these contrast agents during cardiac ultrasound exams is a valuable tool for doctors in certain cases and can influence patient management.

The study enrolled 4,148 patients who underwent both non-contrast conventional echo studies and contrast enhanced echo studies. The data showed that improved visualization of endocardial border has a direct positive impact on the quality and confidence of cardiac ultrasound reporting which translates to improved management decisions.

In 25 percent of the study patients, the confidence of medical decision-making increased from poor to excellent with contrast enhanced echocardiograms. 

Patients with chest pain and coronary artery disease benefited most from the additional diagnosis and management strategy influenced by a contrast echocardiogram. The use of a contrast agent influenced management decision 52 percent of the time.

“The ability to use contrast agents in echocardiography is important when doctors believe it will provide additional diagnostic information about their patient,” said Mani Vannan, MD, from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. “This study has proven that, the majority of the time, additional diagnostic information can be gleaned from a contrast echocardiogram, allowing physicians to make better decisions regarding treatment and overall patient care.”

The researchers concluded that the large patient population unselected for acoustic window showed that improved visualization of endocardial border has a direct positive impact on the quality and confidence of echo reports which translate to additional management decisions.