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What is Echocardiology?
Echocardiology is a branch of medicine that studies how to obtain and interpret ultrasonic images of the heart. Echocardiologists work together with cardiologists to diagnose and treat problems associated with peripheral blood vessels and the heart. It uses ultrasounds to measure the heart's performance and to create images of the heart.What is an echocardiogram?
It is a type of test that uses sound waves sent through a transducer. It is also known as an echo. The echoes displayed on a video screen as moving pictures of your heart. This test is non-invasive and does not have any known side effects.Who performs an echocardiograph?
An echocardiology test is performed by an echocardiology technician, also referred to as a cardiovascular sonographer. Why is an echocardiogram performed?
To follow up on the progress of valve disease
- To determine the overall function of your heart
- To identify the presence of any type of heart diseases such as congenital heart disease, cardiac masses, infective endocarditis, valve disease, pericardial disease and myocardial disease.
Types of echocardiograms
- To determine the effectiveness of your present surgical or medical treatments.
- To evaluate wall motion and systolic function
- To evaluate diastolic function
- To evaluate pericardial disease and effusion
- To assess pulmonary pressure
- To check the thickness of the heart wall
- To evaluate how well an artificial heart valve is functioning
- To measure the shape and size of the heart’s chambers
- To evaluate cardiac performance
- To locate tumors and blood clots inside the heart.
How is the test performed?
- Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE): During this test, the transducer is moved to several locations on the abdominal wall and chest.
- Stress echocardiogram: This test is done while at rest and then again after your heart is stressed. The heart can be stressed through exercise or injecting a drug t make it beat faster and harder.
- Doppler echocardiogram: This test is used to observe the flow of blood through the heart chambers, valves, and d blood vessels.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): During this test a probe is passed through the esophagus to show clearer images. An anesthetic and sedative are applied to the throat.
How to prepare for the test
- Three electrodes which are attached to an electrocardiograph will be placed on your chest by the sonographer. The electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor is used to chart your heart's activity during the test.
- You will lie on the examination table on your left side. A gel which helps produce clear images will be poured on the chest area. The sonographer will place a transducer on several areas of your chest. The sonographer may ask you to change positions during the test. You may also be asked to hold your breath for a while.
- You may experience coolness from the gel and some pressure from the transducer but no major discomfort. The test usually takes less than an hour and you may resume regular activities immediately after the test.
- You can eat and drink as normal on the day of the test.
- If you are under any medications, you should continue taking them as prescribed.
- A medical gown will be provided for you to wear during the test.
- Your doctor will discuss with you the procedure and possible side effects or complications.ents.
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