Why is echocardiography the imaging technique of choice for valvular disease?

Echocardiology is the imaging technique of choice for evaluation of valvular disease, because it provides hemodynamic, structural, and functional data as well as assesses the severity of valvular disease, its possible etiology, and prognosis. Evaluation of the valve may include information about leaflet calcification, pliability, and mobility; any coexisting pathology also can be assessed along with left ventricular function and thrombi. Because echocardiography and Doppler imaging are safe for serial studies, they can be used to follow the patient or to evaluate interventions and management. Doppler imaging and CFI enable more accurate location of the lesion as well as better assessment of pressure gradient, valve areas, and regurgitant flows.

Left, Aortic stenosis with thickened and calcified aortic valve. Right, With Doppler imaging, aortic stenosis velocity is demonstrated by the white envelope, flow direction away from transducer (downward), maximal velocity of 3.5 m/s, and peak gradient of 49 mmHg.

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