Intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) allows cardiologists to visualize cardiac structures (aorta, valves, pulmonary veins, chambers, etc) from an ultrasound catheter usually threaded into the right atrium (RA) or right ventricle (RV) from the femoral vein. It aids in procedures ranging from percutaneous valve replacement and ablation to septal defect closures by providing precise information regarding cardiac mapping in real time.
ICE catheters cost several thousand dollars each and come in different types like radial and phase array. The higher end catheters also offer color and spectal Doppler capabilities. Due to peripheral placement, ICE can be performed with local anesthesia alone in comparison to transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) which requires general anesthesia… very risky in some of these patients.
Although I’ve never seen ICE used in practice, I think it’s amazing that we can image the heart in so many ways! 🙂