Echocardiography is a type of medical procedure that utilizes sound waves to create real-time images of the heart. The resulting visual is called an echocardiogram. This test reveals whether your heart and its valves are properly functioning.
These images can help reveal issues such as:
- Blood clots in your heart’s chambers
- Excessive heart pressure
- Fluid in the sac surrounding your heart
- Issues with the aorta (the primary artery)
- Issues with the valves or your heart’s pumping function
In cases involving unborn children, an echocardiogram can show heart defects.
Types Of Echocardiography
There are various types of echocardiogram tests, including:
One of the most frequent kinds of echocardiograms, transthoracic echocardiography is noninvasive and painless. An examiner will place a device known as a transducer on your chest directly over your heart to produce ultrasound waves. A machine will then interpret these waves in the form of images.
As its name suggests, this type of echocardiogram is used to detect heart issues in fetuses. Women who are 18 to 22 weeks pregnant typically undergo echocardiography to see if their child has any heart problems.
This echocardiogram involves inserting a small transducer into the throat to examine your heart’s condition. Your throat will typically be numbed to prevent a gag reflex. This procedure allows physicians to see certain chambers of your heart that aren’t visible on other echocardiograms.
This is similar to a transthoracic echocardiogram but is performed before and after you’ve taken heart medications or done some form of exercise. This reveals how your heart functions during stressful circumstances.
This type of echocardiogram produces 3-D images of the heart using either transthoracic or transesophageal echocardiography. These pictures can be taken from various angles. Three-dimensional is often utilized to detect heart issues in children and performed before heart valve surgery.
Risks Of Echocardiography
Echocardiography is extremely safe because it doesn’t use radiation like X-rays. In the case of a transthoracic echocardiogram, you may feel a little bit of discomfort after your doctor takes the EKG electrodes off your skin. When contrast injection is utilized, you may have an allergic reaction. Therefore, you should not take this injection if you’re pregnant.
In the case of a stress echocardiogram, the medication could momentarily induce a heart attack or an irregular heartbeat. There’s no real recovery time for most echocardiograms. If you undergo a transesophageal echocardiogram, you will likely feel a sore throat for approximately 2 hours after the procedure.
Get Quality Care From Imperial Family Medicine
Reach out to the professionals at Imperial Center Family Medicine in North Carolina to learn more about echocardiography. We have been providing adults and children aged 6 and older with high-quality medical care since 1999. Call us at 919-941-0158 or visit us online for more information.