Preclinical
Clinical

New approaches in small animal echocardiography: imaging the sounds of silence.

Rashmi Ram, Deanne M Mickelsen, Catherine Theodoropoulos, Burns C Blaxall
American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology2011
Systolic and diastolic dysfunction of the left ventricle (LV) is a hallmark of most cardiac diseases. In vivo assessment of heart function in animal models, particularly mice, is essential to refining our understanding of cardiovascular disease processes. Ultrasound echocardiography has emerged as a powerful, noninvasive tool to serially monitor cardiac performance and map the progression of heart dysfunction in murine injury models. This review covers current applications of small animal echocardiography, as well as emerging technologies that improve evaluation of LV function. In particular, we describe speckle-tracking imaging-based regional LV analysis, a recent advancement in murine echocardiography with proven clinical utility. This sensitive measure enables an early detection of subtle myocardial defects before global dysfunction in genetically engineered and rodent surgical injury models. Novel visualization technologies that allow in-depth phenotypic assessment of small animal models, including perfusion imaging and fetal echocardiography, are also discussed. As imaging capabilities continue to improve, murine echocardiography will remain a critical component of the investigator's armamentarium in translating animal data to enhanced clinical treatment of cardiovascular diseases.
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