Over the past two to three decades echocardiography has come a considerable distance from the early M-mode machines, and has become an indispensable diagnostic tool in any cardiovascular department. It has long been proved to be safe and cost-effective, and its clinical versatility has steadily increased with the continued integration of newer techniques, such as two-dimensional and harmonic imaging, Doppler and much more. One of the more recent developments in the field is three-dimensional echocardiography (3DE). 3DE, in various forms, has been used as a research tool for many years now, but lately improvements in software and transducer technology have begun to facilitate its integration into clinical practice. As with any technique, 3DE has its strengths and weaknesses, and these must be fully appreciated if it is to be utilised effectively.
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Competing interests Declared. AB and SK have received honoraria from Philips. MJM has received research support and honoraria from TomTec, Philips, GE and Siemens.
Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.