A Left Ventricle in Trouble

In the past, one of the only ways to study a medical oddity was by examination. Patients with unusual medical presentations would be examined by multiple doctors during a routine examination (which is still a common occurrence, as most Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) patients know) and then by autopsy after they died. Most likely the affected organ – and sometimes the entire body – would be preserved and wind up in a medical museum, where future doctors could examine and study the effects of that illness.

Hands on experience is still valuable, but thankfully there aren’t that many huge collections of body parts as there once were. Medical Journals are online (PubMed is probably the best; since it is administered by the National Institutes of Health, all of its information is available to the public) and there are also resources like EchoJournal.

EchoJournal is an online collection of Echocardiogram recordings. EchoJournal presents both a mixture of normal heart functions for training, and a good selection of abnormal occurances, for someone who may not be familiar with what a particular problem actually looks like on an Echocardiogram screen. For example, here is an Echo of a healthy Left Ventricle – everything loooks fine here! (That’s what the submitter, drdavemd, believes; I don’t know what I am looking at!)

But on the other hand, this heart is in real trouble – the Left Ventricle is barely functional.

Note: There are two different types of Echocardiogram. Most people are familiar with a Trans-Thoracic Echocardiogram (TTE), which require the probe to be pressed against a person’s body. It is rarely referred to as a TTE, but usually as the generic “Echo”. The Trans-Esophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) involves placing the probe on a thin tube and passing it through the esophagus.

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