In human and small animal medicine, radiography and electrocardiography provide useful information about cardiac chamber size. In the adult horse, these techniques are of little value for this purpose. Echocardiography is a non-invasive diagnostic technique which allows images of cardiac structure to obtained, the size of cardiac chambers and vessels to determined, and quantitative and qualiinformation about cardiac function to be derived. Previously, this inforrequired invasive techniques or post-mortem examination. It is no exaggeration to say that echocardiography has revolutionised equine cardiology. It has allowed clinicians not only to identify cardiac lesions, but to make objective assessments of the effects of these lesions. It has improved our understanding of normal cardiac function and cardiac disease in the horse and has allowed non-invasive assessment of the effects of drugs and exercise training on the heart.
Echocardiography is a technique that is now within the financial reach of some practices and is likely to become more widely available in the future as prices fall further. Practitioners who do not have access to equipment suitable for equine echocardiography should understand the uses of the technique so that they can decide which cases would benefit from referral to a specialist centre. Anyone with an interest in cardiology should be encouraged to see real-time echo-cardiography because it provides a clearer understanding of cardiac anatomy and function in normal and diseased animals than is possible from clinical examination and reading of literature alone.
4.2.1 The principles of echocardiography
4.2.3 Practical use of echocardiography
4.2.4 The echocardiographic examination
4.2.5 Indications for performing an echocardiogram
4.2.6 Interpretation of an echocardiogram
4.2.7 The use of Doppler echocardiography
4.2.8 Contrast echocardiography
4.2.9 Echocardiographic heart score