Echocardiography, because of its ability to detect intracardiac structures in a noninvasive manner, has been increasing in importance as a cardiologic diagnostic tool. The ultrasonic diagnosis of pericardial effusion has stimulated much of the interest in echocardiography in this country. With this technique pericardial fluid is recorded as a relatively echo-free space between the posterior left ventricular epicardium and the posterior pericardium. Anterior fluid is seen as a similar echo-free space between the anterior right ventricular wall and the anterior chest wall. Although the examination is fairly simple and frequently can be performed in a few minutes, the examiner must be aware of technical details, especially with respect to direction of the transducer and control settings on the echograph. In addition, it may be difficult to obtain satisfactory echocardiographic recordings in some patients, such as those with marked pulmonary emphysema. However, these few limitations are overshadowed by the many advantages of a harmless, sensitive, bedside examination for pericardial fluid. Thus, in many institutions echocardiography is becoming the examination of choice for the detection or exclusion of pericardial effusion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine