Key messages

• Echocardiography can be performed in real time at the bedside, permits qualitative and quantitative image analysis, and can easily be repeated for monitoring purposes.

• Transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiography frequently provide essential or even unique information for the clinical management of critical care patients.

• Quantitative coronary angiography uses digital image processing to measure vessel diameter at stenotic and unobstructed coronary segments and to quantify the severity of coronary stenoses. (CD Figure.1.)

CD Figure 1. Left anterior oblique (LAO) view of a coronary angiogram demonstrating a severe coronary stenosis located in the proximal portion of the left anterior descending artery and also involving a large diagonal branch (panel B). Quantitative coronary angiography panels B and C) permits measurement of vessel diameters in an unobstructed reference segment (3.45 mm) and within the stenotic segment (0.85 mm), and thus allows calculation of the severity of stenosis (94 per cent area stenosis).

• Cardiovascular nuclear imaging includes the assessment of regional myocardial perfusion by perfusion scintigraphy, measurement of ventricular function by multigated radionuclide ventriculography, detection of acute myocardial necrosis by infarct avid imaging, and delineation of myocardial viability and cardiac metabolism by positron emission tomography.

• Magnetic resonance imaging permits exquisite delineation of cardiac structures and the great vessels with excellent resolution.

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