What are the benefits of echocardiography in the workup of unstable angina?

Updated: Oct 01, 2020
  • Author: Walter Tan, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Eric H Yang, MD  more...
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If available on a prompt basis, echocardiography can provide a quick evaluation of left ventricular function either for prognosis (which is worse when the left ventricular ejection fraction [LVEF] is less than 40%) or for diagnosis, as when new segmental wall motion abnormality is detected (eg, in postinfarction or postrevascularization chest pain in which baseline left ventricular function is known). However, it must be kept in mind that small infarcts may not be apparent on the echocardiogram.

Important causes of chest pain, such as aortic stenosis and hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM), can be readily detected by echocardiography.

Transesophageal echocardiography is highly recommended if the clinical picture suggests the possibility of a valvular or mechanical complication of MI or if the patient is not following the expected hospital course.

Transesophageal echocardiography, computed tomography angiography (CTA), or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is invaluable when aortic dissection is being ruled out.

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