Why is a new journal dedicated to echocardiography required?

Abstract

The year 2013 marked the 60th anniversary of Inge Edler and Hellmuth Hertz’s discovery of echocardiography and the 160th anniversary of the death of Christian Andreas Doppler (1803–1853). The work of these pioneers marked modern cardiology not only by providing a more accurate diagnosis of heart disease but also by guiding patients’ management. Echocardiography has to be included among the top 10 greatest discoveries dating back to the discovery of piezoelectricity by Pierre and Jacques Curie (1). Echocardiography was ‘conceived’ in 1953 when Inge Edler, a physician from Lund University in Sweden, together with Hellmuth Hertz, a Swedish physicist and the son of a Nobel laureate in Physics, performed the first human echocardiogram, which they called ultrasound cardiography (2, 3). Never before has the pace of innovation in echocardiography been so swift. Echocardiography today has been revolutionised alongside competition from other imaging modalities, such as cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography. It is by far the most used cardiac imaging technique, with the most common use being the assessment of ventricular function, valve disease and the haemodynamic assessment using Doppler echocardiography, so that it has become essential in managing all forms of heart disease. The daily cardiac haemodynamic assessment is now routinely based on Doppler-derived haemodynamics for valve disease and diastolic function, while invasive haemodynamics are only reserved for when clinical discrepancies occur. This saves patients from unnecessary and potentially hazardous ionising radiation. During the 1970s and 1980s, intense collaboration between engineers and physicians culminated in the development of two-dimensional echocardiography, Doppler echocardiography, colour-flow Doppler echocardiography and transoesophageal echocardiography (TOE). In Europe, Bom and colleagues (4) developed a multi-element transducer to provide electronic linear greyscale scans of real-time two-dimensional cardiac images. From the initial poorly understood M-mode echocardiographic recordings of the left ventricle, the development of two-dimensional echocardiography added spatial resolution to the imaging of the heart and clinicians were now able to recognise the anatomy and function of the heart, so that the method was quickly adopted. However, while imaging quality continued to improve, two-dimensional echocardiography could not always match the clarity of some of the cardiac MRI pictures, and some sceptics thought that cardiac MRI had become the reference technique and that echocardiography was a technique of the past. How wrong they were! Technology in echocardiography, like progress, is always changing, and for the better. The wide variety of transducers, frequencies and applications that are available today are unlimited and will be so for the foreseeable future. New technologies such as tissue Doppler and speckle tracking are finding their way into daily practice; while improvements in image clarity of three-dimensional echocardiography, they are dominating technological development at a breathtaking speed so that subspecialising on the various echocardiological modalities is becoming necessary. Echocardiography is rapidly becoming a multimodal technique in its own right. With the explosion of interventions for non-surgical structural heart disease, echocardiography has responded to the challenge with rapid developments of the real-time three-dimensional TOE. This has now become indispensable in a modern cardiac catheterisation laboratory. Guidance for therapeutic procedures is now so routine

DOI: 10.1530/ERP-14-0031

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Nihoyannopoulos2014WhyIA, title={Why is a new journal dedicated to echocardiography required?}, author={Petros Nihoyannopoulos}, booktitle={Echo research and practice}, year={2014} }