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Clinical Investigations in Critical Care |

Contrast Microbubbles Improve Diagnostic Yield in ICU Patients With Poor Echocardiographic Windows*

Thanh T. Nguyen, DO; Milind R. Dhond, MD; Raju Sabapathy, MD; William J. Bommer, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the University of California, Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA.

Correspondence to: William J, Bommer, MD, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Ambulatory Care Center, 4860 Y St, Suite 2800, Sacramento, CA 95817



Chest. 2001;120(4):1287-1292. doi:10.1378/chest.120.4.1287
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Published online

Objective: To determine the value of contrast echocardiographic studies in patients admitted to ICUs who have poor echocardiographic windows secondary to COPD, ventilator use, or inability to obtain optimal positioning for the echocardiogram.

Design: A prospective comparison study of technically difficult patients in the ICU.

Outcome measure: The total scores for the left ventricle (LV) in the two-chamber and four-chamber views were calculated at baseline and following injection of 1 to 2 mL of a contrast agent. The mean numbers of segments visualized in all patients at baseline and after injection of contrast agent were compared to assess the effect on improved visualization.

Results: Forty consecutive patients underwent echocardiography in the ICU for evaluation of LV function. Of these, 25 patients (63%) had poor visualization of the endocardium and required IV contrast agent. In these 25 patients, the average baseline segmental score was 4.5, compared to 11.6 in patients who received an IV contrast agent. Nineteen patients had an average baseline segmental score of 3.9 and were deemed to have a nondiagnostic study. After administration of IV contrast, all patients converted to a diagnostic study, with an average score of 11.6 segments visualized.

Conclusions: Use of echocardiographic contrast agents in selected patients with poor baseline echocardiographic windows in the ICU setting significantly enhances segmental LV visualization and yielded 100% conversion from nondiagnostic to diagnostic studies.

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