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J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2005 Apr;18(4):362-6.

Computer-based training in two-dimensional echocardiography using an echocardiography simulator.

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Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Heart Center, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.


Two-dimensional (2D) echocardiography is a user-dependent technique that poses some inherent problems to the beginner. The first problem for beginners is spatial orientation, especially the orientation of the scan plane in reference to the 3-dimensional (3D) geometry of the heart. The second problem for beginners is steering of the ultrasound probe. We have designed a simulator to teach these skills. On a computer screen a side-by-side presentation of a 3D virtual reality scene on the right side and a 2D echocardiographic view on the left side is given. The virtual scene consists of a 3D heart and an ultrasound probe with scan plane. The 2D echocardiographic image is calculated from 3D echocardiographic data sets that are registered with the heart model to achieve spatial and temporal congruency. The displayed 2D echocardiographic image is defined and controlled by the orientation of the virtual scan plane. To teach hand-eye coordination we equipped a dummy transducer with a 3D tracking system and placed it on a dummy torso. We have evaluated the usability of the simulator in an introductory course for final-year medical students. The simulator was graded realistic and easy to use. According to a subjective self-assessment by a standardized questionnaire the aforementioned skills were imparted effectively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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