Overview

An echocardiogram (echo) is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to create images of your heart. The procedure does not expose you to radiation.

Patient Preparation

No special preparation for a standard/routine transthoracic echocardiogram. On the other hand, you will be asked not to eat for atleast 6 hours prior to transesophageal echocardiogram.

There are several types of echocardiogram and these are:

Transthoracic echocardiogram (Plain & Doppler)
It is the standard type of echocardiogram. A technician (sonographer) uses a transducer with a gel on it and pressing the device firmly on your skin making an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart. The probe (transducer) records the sound waves from your heart. The monitor will show moving images of the echoes converted by a computer.

Doppler echocardiogram
This is used in transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms. The sound waves change pitch when the blood cells bounce off that move through the heart and blood vessels. The procedure detects blood flow problems and blood pressure in the arteries of your heart. There will be colorized blood flow enabling your doctor pinpoint any problems

Transesophageal echocardiogram
If there is difficulty in getting pictures of your heart with a standard echocardiogram, transesophageal echocardiogram may be suggested by your doctor. This procedure is also applicable when your doctor wanted to have more-detailed images of your heart.
You will be given medications to numb your throat and for you to relax. A TEE probe (transducer) is guided by a flexible tube down to your throat and into the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach (esophagus). The transducer records sound wave echoes coming from your heart

Stress echocardiogram
There are heart problems especially those involving the coronary arteries appears only during exercise. Your doctor may recommend this type of test to check for coronary artery problems. However, another procedure is required to identify blockages in the heart’s arteries because echocardiogram alone cannot provide information about blockages.

How stress echo works

Ultrasound images of your heart are taken before and immediately after you walk on a treadmill by a sonographer.
If your medical condition does not allow you to exercise, you may have an injection of a medication making your heart pump as hard as if you were exercising.
You will be instructed not to eat atleast 2 hours prior to the procedure. Adult relative companion must be with you during the procedure.

Precaution

Driving is not allowed when you undergone transesophageal echo that is because of the medication you’ll likely receive.

Results

Your doctor will tell you if you have normal echo or if you have heart problem presented by echo result. You will also be advised if you need to take medications for your heart or if you need to undergo surgery.

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