This year marks the 50th anniversary of echocardiography. The ultrasound technology has advanced to a point where healthcare providers today routinely gather three-dimensional (3D) echocardiographic images in real-time. The 3D non-invasive test is conducted more frequently on patients to make a diagnosis on a variety of cardiac conditions, including heart failure and valve disease.

Roberto Lang, M.D., director of the Cardiac Noninvasive Imaging and Physiology Laboratory and a professor of medicine in the section of cardiology at the University of Chicago (Ill.) Medical Center, is one of the leading pioneers in the development of 3D echocardiography and has helped contribute to the technology’s evolution. He also serves as the director of the Medical Center’s Cardiology Fellowship Training Program.

The University of Chicago Hospitals’ echocardiography laboratory is one of the first in the country — and the first echo lab in Chicago — to receive accreditation from the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation for Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL).

Lang has received multiple awards, honors and clinical study grants, including the American Medical Association’s Physicians Recognition Award, numerous grants from the American Heart Association and is a several-time recipient of the Young Investigators Award. He also has held positions on five editorial advisory boards, including the board for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Lang received his medical doctorate in 1977 from the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires (Argentina), where he graduated summa cum laude and first in his class of 2,400 students. He completed his internship in internal medicine at the Hadassah Medical (Jerusalem) in 1978 and his residency in internal medicine at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics (Madison) in 1983.

Medical Imaging spoke with Lang on the current state of echocardiography and its potential for the future.

Since you started your practice in 1985, what would you say are some of the key technological advances in echocardiography over the last 18 years?
In my practice, I have been lucky enough to witness four or five major steps. One is the advent of 2D images in echocardiography. I would say the second one is the advent of color flow Doppler, which allowed physicians to assess the efficacy of how valves function and to perform hemodynamics to calculate pressures from different sites within the heart. The third major advance is transesophageal echocardiography, a technique in which a transducer probe has been miniaturized and placed on the tip of a gastroscope. I think the fourth major step is the advent of real-time 3D echocardiographic imaging. From the display of the images, I would say it is the most dramatic advance.

Please refer to the March 2003 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis