Since its inception in 1950s, echocardiography has evolved significantly. Its role has expanded beyond cardiology into operating theaters, intensive care units, and emergency departments. It is an easy, inexpensive, noninvasive, and portable technique, which can be rapidly performed at bedside. It is devoid of complications and, for the most part, universally available. This review focuses on growing importance of echocardiography for critically ill patients in the intensive care and high dependency unit settings including indications, modalities, measurements, and therapeutic impact. Literature review of echocardiography use for the cardiovascular assessment of the critically ill patients was done and various indications are discussed including appropriate use scores. Methods being used include transthoracic and transesophageal echo with various modes. This does include assessment of volume status of the hemodynamically unstable patients, myocardial function, global left ventricular systolic function, regional wall motion abnormalities, cardiac output, cardiac tamponade, valvular function, left ventricular outflow obstruction, and right ventricular function. Other diagnostic assessments include aortic dissection, thromboembolisms, pleural effusions, and septal defects. Echocardiography is now considered as an indispensable tool for diagnosis and management including hemodynamic monitoring in critically ill patients. It provides advantages including noninvasiveness and real-time anatomical and functional assessment of the cardiovascular system.
Part of the book: Echocardiography in Heart Failure and Cardiac Electrophysiology