An echocardiogram employs ultrasound, or non-harmful sound waves, to acquire crucial information about your heart.
When a doctor has concerns about your heart and valves’ size, shape, or performance, they frequently employ an echocardiogram or echo.
Echocardiography is a multi-purpose method for detecting cardiac problems.
What is an echocardiogram?
An Echocardiography uses sound waves to generate a moving image of your heart. By doing this, doctors learn about its size and shape and how effectively its chambers and valves function.
This imaging can also detect cardiac muscle that reduced pumping due to a lack of blood flow or injury from a heart attack.
Echocardiography typically takes less than an hour.
It is used not just to diagnose cardiac abnormalities but also to:
- Determine whether or not more testing is required.
- Determine the best therapies for you.
- Determine if specific treatments need to be modified and monitored.
- Keep an eye out for further developments.
An Echocardiography detects or treats the following conditions:
● Aortic aneurysms, also known as abdominal aortic aneurysms or thoracic aortic aneurysms, are bulges in the aorta. This main artery provides blood to the body.
● Clots in the blood
● Congenital heart disease is a condition in which the heart does not develop normally.
● Endocarditis is a heart valve infection.
● Damage caused by a heart attack.
● Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle weakens, and the heart cannot pump blood properly.
● Enlargement of the heart due to the heart muscle’s thickening is known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
● Pericarditis is when the sac surrounding the heart becomes inflamed or infected.
● Pericardial effusion is a condition where fluid surrounds the heart.
● Valvar heart disease is when the heart valves malfunction.
Types of Echocardiogram
Depending on the type of suspected cardiac condition your heart is in, the doctor will perform a specific type of echocardiography.
Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE)
The most frequent form of echocardiogram is transthoracic, which is non-invasive and takes place totally outside your body. The tech applies gel to your chest before scanning your heart with a portable transducer.
While most echocardiography images are flat, special equipment can also provide 3-D images. This method is beneficial for detecting issues with heart valves and the lower left chamber of the heart (left ventricle).
Intracardiac echocardiogram (ICE)
Intracardiac echocardiography is a newer type of examination that involves taking pictures of the inside of your heart. This method involves inserting small tubes called catheters into your arteries.
This is the most basic sort of echocardiography. It generates an image that looks like a trace rather than a representation of heart structures. Doctors use M-mode echo to assess cardiac structures such as the pumping chambers, the size of the heart, and the thickness of the heart walls.
It’s sometimes necessary, or if the patient requests it. The stress test raises your heart rate and blood pressure on purpose. The doctor takes two images: one at rest and one following a treadmill or stationary bike workout. We inject a substance that replicates the impact of exercise if your health prevents you from doing so.
Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
After anesthesia, a special ultrasound probe is guided into your mouth and down your throat to perform a transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). Because the esophagus and heart are so close together, sound waves do not have to pass through skin, muscle, or bone to take better pictures. For some cases, TEE is optional.
The Doppler echocardiogram
This is a technique used for measuring and assessing blood flow via the heart’s chambers and valves. The amount of blood pushed out with each heartbeat measures how well the heart works. Doppler can also identify abnormal blood flow within the heart, suggesting a problem with one or more of the four heart valves or the heart’s walls.
A transducer, which sends out sound waves, is used in an echocardiogram. The waves ricochet off your heart’s walls, causing an echo that the transducer can detect. Your doctor receives a picture after a computer analyzes the echo.
An electrocardiogram, or ECG, is used to monitor the electrical activity of your heart during an echocardiogram.
External echocardiography has no dangers because it is non-invasive and does not involve radiation. However, some people may find lying in one position for the exam unsettling.
What to Expect
An Echocardiography requires special preparation beforehand. Before and after the procedure, there are also specified protocols to take. Let’s take a look at what they are:
Before Beginning the Procedure
The doctor will go through the process with you and allow you to ask questions. In most cases, no previous preparation is necessary, such as fasting or sedation.
You should disclose all drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements to your doctor.
If you have a pacemaker, tell your doctor.
Your doctor may require further preparation based on your medical condition.
Throughout the Procedure
An Echocardiography can be done as an outpatient procedure or during a hospital stay. Procedures may differ based on your situation and the practices of your doctor.
The standard process of an echocardiogram is as follows:
Remove any jewelry or other items that could interfere with the procedure. But glasses, dentures, or hearing aids are not a problem.
Change into a robe or gown provided by the office.
You’ll be lying on your left side on a table or bed. The provider can provide a cushion or wedge behind your back for further support.
Medical professionals will hook you up to an EKG monitor, which captures your heart’s electrical activity and monitors it with small, sticky electrodes during the treatment. A doctor will compare the pictures presented on the echocardiography monitor to the EKG tracings that capture the heart’s electrical activity.
The technician will dim the lights so that the technician can see the images on the echo monitor.
The technician will apply warmed gel to the chest before placing the transducer probe on top of it. As the technician sets up the transducer to obtain the actual image of the heart, you will feel a slight amount of pressure.
The technician will move the transducer probe around and apply varying degrees of pressure during the test to get pictures of various heart areas and structures. The pressure behind the probe should not be too much to bear. However, if you are uncomfortable, you should let them know.
Following the Procedure
Unless your doctor instructs otherwise, you can resume your regular diet and activities. Following an echocardiogram, there is usually no specific treatment. However, your doctor may give you additional or other instructions after the procedure ends, depending on your needs.
As you can see, it’s not that bad. However, the EKG is a necessary procedure for your health, and you should get one regularly.
Now you know all about it. You know what it does, what happens before, during, and after the EKG.
If you want more information or you to schedule an appointment, be sure to call our office at 928.855.1550. We’d be more than happy to help!