An echocardiography is a non-invasive test which uses sound waves to produce the images of the heart. The test allows the doctors to have a clear view of the heart and comprehend the working of the valves as well as the chambers.
There are three major types of echocardiograms –
Transthoracic echocardiogram -
This is a basic type of echocardiogram in which the sonographer uses a gel and a transducer to obtain an image of the patient's heart.
If the doctor is not satisfied with the results of transthoracic echocardiogram, he may recommend the patient to get a transesophageal echocardiogram. In this procedure, the throat is numbed and a transducer is inserted from the throat to the food pipe. The transducer then records the sound waves echoing from the heart and converts it into a more detailed image.
To assess the working of heart under strenuous conditions, the doctor may recommend a stress echocardiogram to check for any coronary artery ailments.
Why get tested?
The test produces the 2-dimensional images of the heart which may be used to –
• Determine the blood flow
• Determine the health of heart muscles
• Evaluate the pumping strength of the heart
• Assess the extent of damage of coronary artery
• Check the pattern of blood flow to assess the extent of stenosis (obstruction of the valves) or regurgitation (leakage of the valves)
• Check if the shortness of breath is being caused due to heart-related ailments.
• Detect congenital heart defects in the developing fetus
What it measures?
The test is usually used as a diagnostic tool for heart-related ailments. An echocardiogram gives a descriptive profile of the heart. This helps the doctor to find and evaluate any anomaly in the functioning of the heart.
This test includes
Since there are different types of echocardiogram tests, the doctor may or may not ask the patient to fast depending on the cause for which the test is being taken. It must be noted that the patient may not be able to drive or operate heavy machinery post the transesophageal echocardiogram test.