Ultrasound creates images of your heart in order to diagnose heart disease
During an echocardiogram, a scan is made of your heart that produces an image on the screen. This image is used to assess the functioning of various structures in the heart, including heart valves, atria and ventricles, to identify structural problems with the heart, and to assess blood flow.
Before the procedure:
You should tell your Hurley cardiologist about any medications you are taking and if you have any medical implants. Do not stop taking the medications unless your physician tells you to do so. Women who are pregnant or think they may be pregnant should tell the cardiologist.
During the procedure:
The echocardiogram is a painless, non-invasive procedure that takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour. You will be asked to remove your shirt and other clothing above the waist and will be given a hospital gown to wear. You will be asked to lie down on your back or on your side on an examination table. Gel, a small probe and small electrodes will be applied to your chest. An ultrasound beam will pass through the tissues of your chest walls and heart and will bounce back to the electrodes. You may hear the sound of blood flowing during the exam; this is normal and comes from the devices being used.
After the procedure:
The results of your exam will be reviewed and forwarded to your physician.
There are several other types of echocardiogram tests that may be performed. While they all use the same technology to create images of the heart, the diagnostic purposes of the tests are somewhat different and use different methods to achieve those goals.
Congenital Echocardiogram. This procedure is designed to help your Hurley cardiologist identify and evaluate congenital (at birth) abnormalities of the heart.
Stress echocardiogram. During this procedure, you will be asked to walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike. Your heart, blood pressure and breathing will all be monitored during this activity. A stress echocardiogram may be used to detect coronary artery disease (CAD) or to help identify safe levels of exercise, particularly if you have had a heart attack or heart surgery.
Transesophageal echocardiogram. During this procedure, you are given a mild tranquilizer. Once you are relaxed, a small device is threaded down your esophagus (windpipe) to provide a more direct image of your heart structures or to identify small clots in your heart chambers.