Echocardiogram uses sound waves to display the image of your heart’s chambers, valves and the major blood vessels and detects cardio related diseases easily. A probe called a transducer is passed over your chest. The probe produces sound waves that reflects off your heart and “echo” back to the probe. These waves generate pictures which can be viewed on your display monitor. Echocardiogram uses standard two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and Doppler ultrasound to create images of the heart. Besides, Echocardiography is considered safe as it does not emit radioactive.
Benefits of 2D Echo:
Early Detection of problems related to heart defects. The images generated on the display device can help the doctor’s spot:
· Blood clots in the heart
· Fluid in the sac around the heart
· Problems with the aorta, which is the main artery connected to the heart
Why it’s done:
Your doctor may suggest an echo cardiogram if he or she suspects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart or if you suffer from shortness of breath or chest pain. It can also be used to detect congenital heart defects in unborn babies.
Depending on what information your doctor needs, you may one of the following kinds of cardiograms:
· Transthoracic echocardiogram: A standard non-invasive echocardiogram in which a technician (sonographer) applies gel on your chest and using a transducer he produces an ultrasound beam which echoes from your heart. A computer coverts the echo into moving images and displays it on the monitor.
· Transesophageal echocardiogram: If it’s difficult to get a clear picture of your heart with standard echocardiogram, your doctor may recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram which gives in-depth detail of your heart and valves. In this test, a flexible tube called transducer is slided down your throat and into your esophagus. From there, the transducer can get detailed picture of your heart.
· Doppler echocardiogram: A Doppler echocardiogram measures the speed and direction of the blood flow within the heart. It screens the four valves for leaks and other abnormalities. Doppler techniques are used in most transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms, and they can be used to check blood flow problems and blood pressure in arteries that traditional Ultrasound fail to detect.
· Stress Echocardiogram: For stress echocardiogram, ultrasound images of your heart are immediately taken after undergoing a physical activity like walking on treadmill or riding a stationary bicycle.
Your doctor will look for healthy heart valves and chambers as well as normal heartbeats. Information from echo cardiogram may display:
· Heart size: Weakened or damaged heart valves, high blood pressure or other abnormalities can be easily evaluated by an echocardiogram.
· Pumping strength: An electrocardiogram can help your doctor determine your heart’s pumping strength. If your heart isn’t pumping enough blood that could result in heart failure.
· Damage to heart muscle: During an echocardiogram, your doctor can determine if all parts of heart wall are functioning normally. Parts that are functioning weakly or receiving too little oxygen may indicate coronary artery disease or various other conditions.
· Valve problem: An echocardiogram shows how your heart valves move as your heart beats. Your doctor can determine if valves open wide enough for adequate blood flow or close fully to prevent blood leakage.
Heart defects: Many heart defects including problems with the heart chambers, abnormal connections between heart and major blood vessels can be detected using Echocardiograms. Besides, Echocardiograms can even monitor a baby’s heart development before birth.
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