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How to interpret an echocardiography report (for the non-imager)?
  1. Manish Bansal1,
  2. Partho P Sengupta2,3
  1. 1 Department of Cardiology, Medanta – The Medicity, Gurgaon, India
  2. 2 Division of Cardiology, Heart and Vascular Institute, West Virgina University, Morgantown, WV, USA
  3. 3 West Virginia University
  1. Correspondence to Dr Partho P Sengupta, Heart and Vascular Institute, West Virginia University, 1 Medical Center Drive Morgantown, WV 26506, USA; Partho.Sengupta{at}wvumedicine.org

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Learning objectives

  • To be able to interpret findings from an echocardiographic study in a systematic manner.

  • To be able to appreciate relative clinical value of various echocardiographic findings in different clinical scenarios and recognise those directly impacting clinical decision making.

  • To be able to integrate echocardiographic findings with those of clinical examination and other investigations.

  • To be able to integrate echocardiography in the overall patient care.

Introduction

Echocardiography is the most widely used cardiac imaging modality. Its ability to permit comprehensive assessment of cardiac structure and function combined with its safety, wide availability and ease of application render it indispensable in the management of most patients with a suspected or known cardiac illness. It is therefore not surprising that the use of echocardiography, when performed for appropriate clinical indications, has been shown to be associated with decreased odds of in-hospital mortality.1

However, the wide applicability of echocardiography has resulted in an increasing number of non-cardiologists and non-imagers being involved in its use for clinical purposes. Since many of them are not well familiar with the echocardiography findings, they often find it difficult to navigate through and interpret an echocardiography report. Moreover, echocardiography is a dynamic field with constant addition of newer imaging modalities (eg, three-dimensional (3D) echocardiography), newer measurements (eg, strain) or changes in interpretation algorithms (eg, recent revision of the left ventricular (LV) diastolic function assessment guidelines2). The reporting format, terminologies used and the technologies available at disposal also vary across echocardiography laboratories, further adding to the complexity of the whole process. This review therefore describes a systematic approach to help enable non-imagers extract clinically relevant information from an echocardiography report and effectively apply it for clinical decision making in their patients.

Interpreting an echocardiography report

Echocardiography tends to generate a large amount of structural and functional data, but not all the information contained within an …

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