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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Echocardiogram

Echocardiogram

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Echocardiogram is a non-invasive screening procedure of the heart

 

An echocardiogram is a procedure in which ultrasound or sonogram is used to examine the heart.  It is also called as Cardiac ECHO or simply an ECHO.  A standard echocardiogram is also known as a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) or cardiac ultrasound. In this case, the probe is placed on chest wall of the patient and images are taken through the chest wall. This is a non-invasive, highly accurate and quick assessment of the overall cardiac health.

2-dimensional (2-D) echo shows the actual shape and motion of the different structures of the heart. In a way, these images represent "slices" of heart in motion(contraction).

Other types

  • Transoesophageal echocardiogram(TEE): It is an alternative type of echo. A specialized probe containing an ultrasound transduced at its tip is passed into the patient's esophagus. The advantage of TEE over TTE  are  clearer images of structures that are difficult to view transthoracically i.e. through the chest wall.  It also has certain disadvantages like the patient needs to be on fasting atleast for 6 hours, requires longer time, team of medical personnel and is uncomfortable for the patient. It also carries certain risks like esophageal perforation.
  • Doppler echo can assess the flow of blood through the heart. In a Doppler echo, you may hear a whooshing or pulsating sound. This is not the actual sound of your heart, but an amplified and computerized audio signal.
  • 3-Dimensional echocardiography enables  detailed anatomical assessment of cardiac pathology, particularly valvular defects and cardiomyopathies.

 

 Information from Echocardiogram

Echocardiography is an invaluable tool in providing the doctor with important information about the following:

  • size of the chambers of the heart including dimension or volume of the cavity and thickness of the walls.
  • pumping strength whether normal/weakened action
  • valve problems: Both the shape and motion can be visualised
  • others: detection of fluid around the heart, blood clots or masses inside the heart and also abnormal holes b/w heart chambers.