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International Medical Services & Business Development

Official Site of the Medical Center – University of Freiburg

Echocardiography

Our echocardiography laboratory employs all the latest techniques. In four specially equipped workspaces these methods are used to display the heart and heart vessels by means of ultrasonic waves. This way, we can get information about the size of the ventricles and atria as well as the functioning of the heart and heart valves. Depending on the problems in individual patient cases, other values such as the blood pressure in the lungs or the presence of clots can be determined.
In our echocardiography laboratory, aside from routine diagnostics (currently more than 15,000 examinations per year), various scientific issues in the fields of heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) and catheter treatment of valvular heart disease (valvulopathy) are investigated.

Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE)
In this non-invasive and painless examination, patients lie on their left side on a special bed. A small transducer, placed on top of the frontal chest wall, allows the heart to be displayed via the spaces between the ribs. Aside from the usual color, CW (continuous wave) and PW (pulsed wave) Doppler display methods, other modern techniques such as Tissue Doppler and "speckle tracking" are employed. After intravenous injection of a contrast medium, holes in the ventricular septum (such as persistent foramen ovale) or clots can be displayed and analyzed.

3D echocardiography
In three-dimensional echocardiography, the movement of all the cardiac walls is analyzed simultaneously. In this way, abnormalities in wall motion can be detected more accurately and cardiac function can be properly determined. Moreover, 3D echocardiography allows for assessment of valve defects (particularly leaks) in the heart chamber and very accurate representation of valve inflammation (endocarditis). This method is available on all our ultrasonic devices and is employed daily.

Stress echocardiography
Stress echocardiography (ECG) - much like exercise ECG - is a kind of transthoracic echocardiography that is performed while exercising on a bicycle ergometer. A variant of stress ECG involves administering medications that bring improvement in heart function without the need for physical stress. By this means the doctor can assess the functioning of the heart during physical exertion and discover circulatory disorders in certain portions of the heart. Moreover, the relevance of various valve defects as a cause of respiratory distress can be investigated.

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)
In transesophageal echocardiography, a special probe is introduced via the esophagus. This technique allows for extremely detailed echo images of the heart, because the esophagus passes close to the rear wall of the heart. Therefore this technique is particularly suitable for displaying very small clots, heart valve inflammation (endocarditis) and valve defects (e.g. stenosis, insufficiency). Transesophageal echocardiography is also often employed during catheter-based repairs of valve defects (TAVI, MitraClip, screen closures of holes in the cardiac septum) and cardiac surgery.

Tissue Doppler
Using Tissue Doppler imaging we can assess the speed of cardiac wall motion and measure heart function. In particular, the functioning of the right side of the heart as well as the heart’s relaxation function (diastolic function) can be better displayed with this technique.

Medical Center - University of Freiburg

Phone: +49 761 270 21310
Fax: +49 761 270 19310

info-ims@uniklinik-freiburg.de