Cor Pulmonale

Preliminary Diagnosis: Cor Pulmonale

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis?

2-D echocardiography.

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosing cor pulmonale.


  • Does not expose patients to ionizing radiation.

  • Highly sensitive and specific in detecting cardiac abnormalities and detailing the source of abnormality (valvular, pericardial, vascular).

  • Able to detail cardiovascular and chamber pressures, allowing better characterization of the primary abnormality and/or any secondary complications.

  • Better able to direct treatment and therapy than other imaging modalities.


  • Highly operator dependent.

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

No specific contraindications to echocardiography.

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

Plain radiography (PA and lateral view of the chest).

V. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative techniques for diagnosing cor pulmonale.


  • Relatively quick, portable, and inexpensive imaging modality.

  • Exposes patients to minimal ionizing radiation.


  • Has limited sensitivity and specificity in clinching a diagnosis and characterizing cor pulmonale.

  • Less adept in detailing surrounding soft tissue, vascular, and osseous structures.

VI. What are the contraindications for the alternative imaging techniques?

No contraindications to plain radiography exist. Some institutions may require signed consent for pregnant women.

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