Health A to Z Last updated on 2023-03-29 11:23:12
Echocardiography: Types, procedure, risk factors, and more
- Dr Spurti Kattimani
- 5 Min Read
Your heart, the muscular organ responsible for pumping blood throughout your body, is the lifeline of your existence. It’s essential to keep an eye on its health and function, and echocardiography is a vital tool for doing so. In this article, we will delve into the world of echocardiography, covering everything from its definition to its various types, methods, preparation, and interpretation of results.
What is echocardiography?
Echocardiography is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create real-time images of your heart. These images, called echocardiograms, show your heart’s size, shape, structure, and how well it’s functioning.
It’s also otherwise known as a heart ultrasound or heart sonogram.
Who performs echocardiography?
Echocardiography is usually performed by a cardiac sonographer or a cardiologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating heart diseases.
Why is it done?
Echocardiography is done to diagnose and monitor various heart conditions, such as
- Heart valve disorders
- Congenital heart defects
- Heart muscle damage, and
- Irregular heartbeat.
It also helps in assessing the heart’s pumping strength and blood flow and detecting any blood clots or fluid buildup around the heart.
What are the different types of echocardiography?
There are three types of echocardiography.
- Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), and
- Stress echocardiogram.
What are the different methods used in echocardiography?
Echocardiography can be performed using two methods:2D echocardiography and 3D echocardiography.
2D echocardiography is the traditional method that uses two-dimensional images to create a picture of the heart, while 3D echocardiography is a more advanced technique that creates a three-dimensional image of the heart, providing more detailed information about its structure and function.
Apart from this, there’s also the Doppler echocardiogram. It uses sound waves to measure the speed and direction of blood flow in the heart and blood vessels. This can also be used to check for blocked or leaking valves and the blood pressure in the arteries.
Last but not least, echocardiography also makes use of color flow imaging to help check the blood flow in the heart and to identify other problems in the heart valves.
How to prepare for an echocardiography test?
The preparation for an echocardiography test depends on the type of test you’re undergoing.
For a TTE, a traditional 2D ECHO test does not require special preparation, you may need to avoid caffeine and tobacco and wear loose-fitting clothes.
For TEE, you may need to fast for a few hours before the test, avoid caffeine and tobacco and wear loose-fitting clothes.
For a stress echocardiogram, you may need to avoid eating or drinking anything for a few hours before the test and avoid taking any heart medications.
Speak to your consultant for more information and follow the instructions provided by the healthcare staff.
What does an echocardiography show?
An echocardiography test shows the size, shape, and function of your heart, including any abnormalities or damage to your heart muscle, heart valves, or blood vessels.
What to expect?
A TTE involves lying down on a table while a technician moves a wand-like device over your chest to obtain images of your heart.
TEE, this type of 2D echo test, involves placing a specialized probe — that is, a small, flexible device that is inserted through the mouth and down the throat into the esophagus, to get images of the heart.
During a stress echocardiogram, you’ll exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike while the technician takes images of your heart before and after exercise.
After the procedure
After an echocardiogram, you can resume your daily activities immediately. Your doctor will discuss the results with you and develop a treatment plan if needed.
What not to do before an echocardiogram?
Before an echocardiogram, avoid eating a heavy meals, drinking caffeine, or smoking for a few hours.
How to interpret the test results?
Interpreting the results of an echocardiogram depends on the type of heart condition being diagnosed or monitored. Changes in heart structures can indicate various heart diseases, such as cardiomyopathy or heart failure.
- A decrease in pumping strength can also indicate heart failure, while an increase in pumping strength may indicate an abnormality in the heart’s electrical system.
- Heart muscle damage can be detected through changes in the thickness or movement of the heart muscle.
- Heart valve disorders can be detected through the assessment of the valve’s function and any leaks or blockages.
- Congenital heart defects can be identified through abnormalities in the heart’s structure.
What are some risk factors?
Echocardiography is a safe and non-invasive procedure that does not involve any radiation or known side effects. However, as with any medical procedure, there can be some risks involved, such as an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in TEE or complications during a stress echocardiogram. It’s essential to discuss any concerns or risk factors with your doctor before undergoing the procedure.
How to book an echocardiography test with MFine?
To book an echocardiography test with MFine, you can follow these steps:
- Download the MFine app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
- Sign up for an account using your mobile number or email ID.
- In the MFine app, go to the ‘X-rays, MRIs & Scans’ section and select the ‘Echo’ test of your choice from the list of tests.
- Enter your location and select a diagnostic center near you where you would like to get the test done.
- Choose a suitable date and time for the test based on the availability of the diagnostic center.
- Make the payment for the test using your preferred payment method.
You’ll receive a confirmation of your booking along with the details of the diagnostic center and the date and time of the test.
We offer up to 50% off on X-rays, MRIs, and other scans, and you can book a same-day slot with us. You will have access to over 600 labs, and you’ll receive your reports within 12 hours and films within 15 to 20 minutes. So, if you need to get a scan or an X-ray done, book with us for quick, easy, and affordable service!
Echocardiography is a valuable tool for diagnosing and monitoring various heart conditions. It’s a non-invasive, safe, and painless procedure that provides valuable insight into the health and function of your heart. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of heart disease or if you have a family history of heart disease, talk to your doctor about the benefits of echocardiography and whether it’s right for you. Remember, a healthy heart is crucial for a healthy life, so take care of your heart, and it will take care of you.
Frequently asked questions | FAQs
What is the difference between ECG and echocardiography?
ECG or electrocardiogram measures or checks the electrical activity of your heart and records it as a graph, whereas echocardiography uses ultrasound waves to create an image of your heart’s structure and function.
Does an echocardiography test detect heart blockage?
Echocardiography can identify the presence of heart blockages indirectly by detecting changes in the heart’s structure or function that suggest reduced blood flow to the heart. However, echocardiography cannot directly visualize heart blockages, and additional tests, such as a coronary angiogram, may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
What are the four types of echocardiography?
The four types of echocardiography are transthoracic echocardiography (TTE), transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), stress echocardiography, and 3D echocardiography.
What is the difference between echocardiography and echocardiogram?
Echocardiography and echocardiogram are often used interchangeably, but echocardiography refers to the entire process of using ultrasound waves to create an image of your heart, while an echocardiogram refers specifically to the image produced by the procedure.
How long does an echocardiography test take?
The duration of an echocardiography test can vary depending on the type of echocardiography being performed and the complexity of the heart’s structure and function. A typical transthoracic echocardiogram may take between 30 to 60 minutes, while a transesophageal echocardiogram may take up to an hour or longer.
What are the five abnormalities found on the echocardiogram?
The five abnormalities that can be detected on an echocardiogram are:
- Enlarged heart (cardiomegaly)
- Heart valve disorders (such as stenosis or regurgitation)
- Reduced heart pumping function (heart failure)
- Abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- Structural abnormalities (such as congenital heart defects)
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