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National Association Endorses Recommendations for Contrast Agent Use in Heart Ultrasounds (Echocardiograms)
Date:11/4/2008

American Society of Echocardiography Lays out Clinical Applications and Safety Considerations

MORRISVILLE, N.C., Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) today backed the use of contrast agents, used to enhance echocardiogram images, and provided a guide for physicians who may be hesitant to use the contrast agents following a 2007 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) black box warning. In a new statement, supported by expert consensus opinion, critical review, and evidence-based research, ASE outlines why, when and how the contrast agents should be used to enhance diagnosis, the role for each person in the lab, and methods to implement contrast in the lab. The statement, "The American Society of Echocardiography Consensus Statement on the Clinical Applications of Ultrasonic Contrast Agents in Echocardiography," was released in the November 2008 issue of The Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography.

Cardiologists use echocardiograms (live, real-time ultrasound images of the beating heart) to evaluate the heart's performance, as well as the structures of the heart. The consensus statement affirms that contrast enhancement is an essential part of modern, quality-driven echocardiography laboratories inside and outside the hospital where both resting and stress echo testing are done.

"Ultrasound contrast agents have an established role in clinical diagnosis, patient management and clinical research," said Dr. Sharon Mulvagh, one of the lead authors of the document. "Contrast agents can provide sonographers and physicians the clear images they need to diagnose life threatening heart conditions that may not be otherwise visible."

Acknowledging that the FDA black box warning initiated in 2007 and revised in 2008 may weigh heavily on concerned physicians, ASE outlined the proven benefits of contrast agents in its consensus statement, and reviewed the specific contraindications which include signifi
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SOURCE The American Society of Echocardiography
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