How Echocardiography Is Done To Provide Your Doctor With Information About Your Heart
Echocardiography is used to create images of your heart so your doctor can find problems that might be causing your heart to have irregular beats, low blood flow, or pain. This test can be done in different ways, depending on what your doctor is looking for. The results are considered along with results from an EKG and other imaging exams to come to a diagnosis for a heart problem if you have one. Here's how echocardiography is done.
The Test Uses Sound Waves
An echocardiogram is created using sound waves. The sound waves bounce back from tissues and bones to create images. The technician uses a small handheld device that they rub over your skin to send the sound waves into your skin and capture their return when they bounce back. The data is sent to a computer that translates the data into video and still images.
The Doctor May Use Dye Or Internal Testing
If a standard echocardiogram doesn't provide clear results due to other tissues being in the way, the doctor may need to reposition your body on its side or use contrast dye. The dye can be injected into a vein to make it easier to see your bloodstream and how it flows through your heart. Your doctor might also choose to do internal testing with transesophageal echocardiography.
With this option, your doctor passes a transducer down your throat so it can get closer to your heart and bypass obstructions. If you have this test, your throat is numbed and you'll be given sedation so it is easier to tolerate.
Echocardiography Can Be Done With Stress Testing
Another way echocardiography can be done is to combine it with stress testing. This is often a good choice since some heart conditions may not cause symptoms until you exert yourself through exercise. To do a stress test with echocardiography, the doctor will probably have an echocardiogram done first to get a baseline at rest. Then, you'll exercise on a bike or treadmill to get your heart rate up. After that, you'll have another echocardiogram to compare with the first one.
An echocardiogram gives your doctor helpful information about how your heart works. It shows tumors, blood clots, infections, heart enlargement, valve operation, and heart diseases. Once the condition of your heart is known, your doctor can create a treatment plan that manages your cardiac condition and symptoms.
An echocardiogram takes several minutes to complete, but it isn't painful. The time you spend taking the test is worth it so you can protect and manage your health.