James C. Eisenach, M.D., Editor


URL: http://www2.umdnj.edu/˜shindler/echo.html

Institution: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Author/Webmaster: Daniel Shindler, M.D. (shindler@umdnj.edu)

Teaching materials on the WWW use sound, video, and other means to communicate an idea that may otherwise be difficult to present. Echocardiography is an ideal subject for electronic publication because the state of the art is changing, requiring that teaching materials be constantly updated. Moreover, moving echocardiograms can be difficult to describe with plain text.

The E-chocardiography web site is an example of how the WWW can be used as a teaching tool and also is a demonstration of how computer-aided instruction can be applied to clinical care. Daniel Shindler, the webmaster, has created a resource that covers a specific area that interests anesthesiologists and a broad range of health care professionals.

The E-chocardiography web site contains accurate and timely information. Still images and text are used to describe the pathophysiology of cardiac disease. The site is well organized, with articles listed alphabetically and chronologically. Individual chapters are for the most part well written and use still images of echocardiograms to illustrate specific points. A separate section contains echocardiograms that have been animated using QuickTime video, VDOLive, and Java. Although this is an interesting demonstration of how moving echocardiograms can be presented on the WWW, better integration with the articles would be helpful.

Although Dr. Shindler or other UMDNJ faculty have written most chapters, some sections consist only of an image or two and a link to information at a different web site. This results in some variation in the quality of the articles.

All of the links are current and relevant to cardiac ultrasound imaging. Links are located in individual chapters and are appropriate and mostly of high quality, although they are not always identified as pointing to information on a different server, which raises the question of editorial control. The webmaster does not describe if the content on remote servers is peer reviewed or whether the information is checked periodically for accuracy.

This site appears to have no search capabilities. As the list of topics covered by E-chocardiography grows, a search feature would be useful for finding an article on a specific topic.

E-chocardiography is well organized and informative. It will be helpful to anyone who wants to learn about echocardiography or cardiac physiology. Although E-chocardiography could make better use of new WWW technology, it is a valuable educational resource.

Reviewer: Keith J. Ruskin, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology; Yale University School of Medicine; 333 Cedar Street; New Haven, Connecticut 06520