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Echocardiography. 2012;29(1):98-102. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8175.2011.01534.x.

Role of live/real time three-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography in pericardial disease.

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Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35249, USA.


Despite the high sensitivity of two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography (2DTTE) in diagnosing pericardial effusion, it has limitations in assessing its size and extent and in evaluating other pericardial pathologies. There are only limited reports so far, but live/real time three-dimensional transthoracic Echocardiography (3DTTE) has shown promise and potential advantages over 2DTTE in certain clinical situations. With its ability to crop and view cardiac structures from any desired angulation it offers incremental value in assessing the anatomy of the pericardium including echo densities within the effusion, fibrinous bands, and loculated effusions. It offers significant supplemental information over 2DTTE in clinical scenarios like post cardiac surgery follow up of hemopericardium, quantification of the effusion, evaluation of pericardial masses including granuloma, differentiating pericardial effusion from ascites and pleural effusion and in studying the extent of the disease in constrictive pericarditis. However, comprehensive studies are needed to further define its role in daily clinical practice.

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