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December 21, 1979

Echocardiography in Cardiovascular Drug Assessment

JAMA. 1979;242(25):2784. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03300250040028

Originally intended to be a modest ancillary tool in diagnosing structural abnormalities of the heart and the pericardium, the noninvasive technique of echocardiography has greatly expanded its diagnostic orbit. It now competes successfully with invasive angiographic techniques for diagnosing and evaluating valvular and myocardial disorders, as well as those of ventricular function—the latter reflected in the measurements of left ventricular diameters and derived hemodynamic indices. Currently, two-dimensional cross-sectional echocardiography is proving even more informative than M-mode techniques in estimating left ventricular ejection fraction—a reliable index of left ventricular performance.

Can measuring left ventricular diameters be similarly helpful in studying the action of cardiovascular drugs? Gibson1 in 1973 and Burggraf and Parker2 in 1974 suggested this possibility, which has since been explored by a number of investigators with results that varied from endorsement to rejection.

Clearly, no satisfactory answer could be given to the value of echocardiography in the