Echocardiography of The Heart
What is Echocardiography? When is it necessary to do it? How do you do it? How will I feel during the test? Are there side effects? What is the significance of the test findings?
Additional names of the test: Heart Echo, Echocardiogram.
What is Echocardiography?
Echocardiography is an ultrasound scan of the heart. Echo is the abbreviated name of the test - its full name is Echocardiography.
By using sound waves at frequencies higher than the hearing threshold of the human ear, the ultrasound device creates moving images of the heart muscle, the heart chambers, and other structures in the heart such as the valves.
Unlike X-rays or CT scans, Echocardiography test does not emit ionizing radiation (exposure to which increases the risk of cancer and fetal malformations). Unlike heart catheterization, this is a non-invasive test.
When is Echocardiography necessary?
Your doctor will ask you to do an Echocardiography if he suspects you have a problem with the heart valves or the heart chambers or heart function. An echocardiogram may also be done to the fetus while in the mother's womb and to assess in this way whether he has a congenital heart defect.
Echocardiography is used to diagnose and evaluate various heart conditions and to follow them. Among other things, the test can help answer the following questions:
• What is the cause of the murmur that the doctor heard in the heart test?
• Is there a problem with the heart valves - for example, signs of infection (endocarditis) or constriction or leakage?
• Is there a weakness of the heart muscle after an infarction (heart attack)?
• Is there a state of heart failure, that is, an impairment of the heart's output?
• Is there a blood clot in the heart that can be carried to the brain and cause a stroke?
• Is there an inflammation of the heart (pericarditis)?
Does the the test need early preparation?
How do you do the test?
The test is usually carried out by a specially trained technician who has been authorized to perform cardiac tests and is deciphered by a cardiologist. The examiner will ask you to remove your upper body clothes and lie down on the examination bed. Then it will apply a transparent gel to your chest. This gel, which is based on water, helps to transfer sound waves from a manual device called a transducer and the same motive that checks the chest.
The transducer transmits and receives high-frequency sound waves and translates them into electrical signals. These create a moving picture of the beating heart and its parts, as well as the flow of blood in the heart. The test takes up to 15 minutes.
They'll put me to sleep?
No. An external Echocardiography does not require anesthesia or blurring.
It hurts? How will I feel during the test?
The test is painless. At most, there may be discomfort due to pressure on the chest. The examiner may also ask you to hold your breath for a short time or lie on your side.
How will I feel after the examination?
It is not expected that the test will have any effect on your feelings. In most cases, it is possible to return to normal activity immediately after the examination.
Are there side effects? Is it a risk?
There is no evidence of risk or damage as a result of the test. The test does not expose the subject to ionizing radiation.
May I drive after the examination?
Yes. The test has no effect on driving ability.
When will I "get back to myself"?
Immediately after the test, you can resume normal operation.
When will I get the test results?
A cardiologist (heart specialist), will analyze the results of the test and send a written and signed report to the physician (immediate or up to several days). The doctor who referred you to the examination will discuss with you the results of the test and their significance for you. Sometimes the cardiologist may talk to you about the test results immediately after it is finished.
What follow-up treatments are expected after the examination?
Follow-up treatments depend on the reasons for the test and its results. Rarely, when it is not possible to obtain a clear enough picture in an external Echocardiography test or when an accurate picture of a particular area of the heart is needed, an internal Echocardiography should be done through the esophagus, which is a more invasive examination.
Warning signs after the test that require medical attention
There is no evidence of risk or damage as a result of the test.
How do I interpret the results of my test?
A normal test indicates that the heart structure and functioning are normal. Improper results in the test may indicate a wide range of conditions - from mild to non-invasive disorders to significant heart disease requiring further investigation and treatment. It is therefore very important to discuss the results of the examination with your doctor.