An Echocardiogram is a diagnostic test that provides a moving image of the heart with the help of ultrasounds. This test allows us to see how the heartbeats and pumps blood. The Doctor can identify heart disease from the images that an Echocardiogram shows.
Depending on the information the doctor needs, he or she may perform one of several types of Echocardiograms. Every kind of Echocardiogram may involve some or no risk.
Why is an Echocardiogram performed?
Your Doctor may ask you to have this test done to see:
The heart’s anatomy: cardiac cavities, valve movement, and any anomalies it may present.
Heart’s functionality: to see if the cavities move accordingly, if the valves open and close correctly.
It is very useful to diagnose cardiac and vascular diseases.
Without any risk: Echocardiograms are harmless, can be performed on any person, under any circumstance, and at any place.
Painless: It does not produce any pain and does not cause any secondary effect.
Patients may remain to lay down and relaxed. The gel will be applied on their chest, then, in the same zone a small device will be placed that transmits the image of the heart to the screen. The test usually takes less than an hour.
Before the procedure:
No special preparation is necessary before a standard Echocardiogram. You can eat, drink, and take medicines as usual.
If you have a Transesophageal Echocardiogram instead, your Doctor may ask you to fast for a few hours before the test.
Types of Echocardiograms:
The Echocardiogram uses high-frequency ultrasound, emitted by a probe. The ultrasounds are reflected off the tissues and are received by the probe. The Echocardiography device elaborates on the image with the information received by the probe and emits it on a video screen. There are different types of Echocardiograms:
Transthoracic (Standard) Echocardiogram: This is done through the chest wall.
During the procedure:
Transesophageal Echocardiogram: If it is difficult to see the heart images taken by a Transthoracic Echocardiogram, this type of Echocardiogram may be recommended.
During the procedure:
Your throat is anesthetized, and you are given medicine to help you relax.
A flexible tube containing a transducer is inserted down your throat and passed through the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.
This tool records the echoes of the sound waves coming from your heart.
A computer converts the echoes into detailed motion pictures of your heart.
After the procedure:
Most people can resume normal daily activities after an echocardiogram.
Results after an echocardiogram:
Some of the conditions that an Echo may indicate:
Changes in the size of the heart
Congenital heart disease
Heart defects-problems in the chambers of the heart, abnormal connections between the heart and blood vessels, and so on
Pumping force: percentage of the blood being pumped out of a full ventricle with each beat and volume of blood being pumped out of the heart in one minute
Valve problems -- knowing whether the heart valves open enough to allow proper blood flow or close completely to prevent blood from leaking
High blood pressure
Acute myocardial infarction
Heart muscle damage - Areas of the heart that move weakly may have been damaged during a heart attack or receive too little oxygen.
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