Echocardiography is an ultrasound or echo that provides moving pictures of the heart. The test may be performed the patient has unexplained admin, if Dr. Jayasundera suspects a heart murmur, or if the patient has had a heart attack, rheumatic fever or a congenital heart defect.
Echo tests are carried out by trained sonographers and can be done in the doctor's office, emergency rooms, hospital clinics or a hospital room. The patient will lie on a bed, either on the back or side. The sonographer will apply a special gel which helps conduct the sound waves through the body on to the chest area and then move the microphone-shaped transducer wand over the heart. The transducer emits ultra high frequency sound waves, which bounce back off the heart and valves to create moving images on a video screen. The process takes about an hour. It is completely painless and has no side effects. In some cases, sticky patch electrodes are also attached to the patient’s chest to help record an electrocardiogram at the same time.
This test uses sophisticated imaging technology to create two dimensional images as well as moving real time images of the beating heart. Echocardiography shows the doctor the size and shape of the patient’s heart and how well it is functioning. If there are any weak areas in the heart, the echo test will reveal them. Any problems with the valves of the heart will be detected. If there are any blood clots in the heart, or blood vessels near the heart, the echo test will show them as well. For example, an echo test can identify if the heart is not functioning at full capacity or if there are areas of depressed movement, which are signs of cardiomyopathy or heart attack, respectively. The test assesses the pumping ability of individual chambers of the heart and the movement of each wall in the organ. This advanced imaging allows the doctor to diagnose the condition of the heart and determine the best treatment plan.