How to: Transthoracic Echo

The ultrasound machine is now becoming an indispensable tool for the (non-radiologist) doctor, providing real-time, clinically-relevant information at the bedside.  While this machine may not replace the reliable stethoscope any time soon, the ultrasound has certainly proven its utility, adding to the armamentarium of the modern physician.

Interpretation of ultrasound, just like interpretation of any radiologic modality, involves a certain learning curve.  It takes time and practice to be able to superimpose the anatomy of body organs on the low-resolution images, and derive some clinical information on the function of the insonated organ.  

The transthoracic echo in particular may be more challenging to interpret, because different views are used to slice the chambers of the heart in different planes.  The method of transthoracic echo is hard taught with words and pictures, but rather, time should be spent by the sonologist visualizing the ultrasound probe and the waves that emanate from the probe slicing through the cardiac chambers. 

Here are five videos from youtube, each one a little over a minute, that wonderfully illustrates how a picture (or in this case, a video) is worth a thousand words.  A novice would very well consider watching the videos over and over, until the the images are  ingrained in his memory.
Parasternal short axis – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_6Ltla3NL1k

Subcostal view – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oMwgUo6sbyY

Apical 4-chamber view – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5czv-c1uUnw

Parasternal long axis – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CIJewMLUQkU

IVC view – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=McUUFvnFuJU

References

YouTube,. “How To Obtain: Apical 4 (Four) Chamber Ultrasound View- Training And Techniques – ICU”. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

YouTube,. “How To Obtain: Inferior Vena Cava Ultrasound View- Training And Techniques – ICU”. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

YouTube,. “How To Obtain: Parasternal Long Axis Ultrasound View – Training And Techniques – ICU”. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

YouTube,. “How To Obtain: Parasternal Short Axis Ultrasound View – Training And Techniques – ICU”. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

YouTube,. “How To Obtain: Subcostal Cardiac Ultrasound View – Training And Techniques – ICU”. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

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