Echocardiography is also called an echo test. This test generates moving pictures of the heart using sound waves. An echocardiogram is a test that uses ultrasound waves to examine the heart. It is a safe and painless procedure that helps doctors diagnose a variety of heart problems.
An Echocardiogram helps evaluate various problems with the heart and its function. It gives information about the heart’s structure and blood flow non-invasively.
This test is recommended if a:
Patient has a heart murmur
Patient has had a heart attack
Patient has unexplained chest pains
Patient has had rheumatic fever
Patient has a congenital heart defect or valve problem
During the test, a transducer (a small microphone-like device) is held against the chest. The transducer sends ultrasound waves that reflect (echo) off the various parts of the heart.
A computer uses the information coming from the transducer to construct an image of the heart. The image is displayed on a television screen, and it can be recorded digitally, on videotape, or printed on paper.
What does it Show?
An Echocardiography shows the size, structure, and movement of various parts of your heart. These parts include the heart valves, the septum (the wall separating the right and left heart chambers), and the walls of the heart chambers. Doppler ultrasound shows the movement of blood through your heart.
What happens during the test?
No special preparation is necessary for this test. Electrodes (small sticky patches) and wires will be attached to your chest and shoulders. To improve the quality of the pictures, a colorless gel is applied to the area of the chest where the transducer will be placed. You may also be asked to breathe slowly or hold your breath in order to obtain a better image.
How long does it take?
An Echocardiography procedure typically takes about 30 minutes, but may be longer if additional pictures and calculations are needed. Echo imaging is sometimes challenging in people who are very thin, obese, or have lung disease such as COPD.
What are the benefits?
A major benefit of the Echocardiogram is that it gives information about the heart’s structures and blood flow non-invasively. The information gained from the echocardiogram helps your doctor make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that’s best for you. .