Echocardiography

Echocardiography (commonly referred to as "ECHO" in the medical community) is probably the most widely used diagnostic tests in cardiology. It is a non-invasive technique that provides valuable information on heart size and shape, haemodynamic (pumping) capacity and location and extent of myocardial abnormalities. 

Heart ScanIn the last few years, echocardiography has become widely available in veterinary practice to provide a non-invasive assessment of cardiac anatomy and function. Most modern ultrasound machines provide excellent image resolution and high sensitivity colour and Doppler capabilities. Learning how to perform a basic echocardiographic examination is very intuitive, and examiners can quickly learn to recognize basic patterns of disease. However, the real difficulty is represented by the correct interpretation of anatomical lesions and their pathophysiology. This is particularly true when evaluating complex congenital abnormalities. In these cases, recognition of patterns of cardiac hypertrophy, interpretation of abnormal velocity and turbulent blood flows, and detection of aberrant vessels requires a vast knowledge in cardiovascular anatomy and physiology and exceptional experience in the cardiology field. AV dysplasia, for example, represents a common misdiagnosis, being often interpreted as juvenile acquired cardiomyopathy. Similarly intra-cardiac shunts and dynamic outflow obstruction are often overlooked or misinterpreted.   

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