Echocardiogram is applied to examine the heart. It is noninvasive, safe, and is accurate when reported by a skilled cardiologist.
The patient will lie down an exam table or bed. An echocardiogram technician will then use a transducer (device resembling a computer mouse) through the chest. The device will be maneuvered throughout the chest in order to examine different angles of the heart. A lubricant gel is applied to the chest to make it easier for the transducer to slide. The whole process lasts for 30-60 minutes.
How Echocardiogram Works
Sound waves are sent by the transducer towards the heart. Sound waves bounce back like an echo, similar to a sonar from a submarine. The echoes of the heart are then gathered by the transducer. The echoes are processed on a computer and a 2D image is produced on a screen. Through the transducer, echocardiogram allows vital areas of the heart to be examined.
Echocardiogram is also applied with stress tests. An echo test is conducted while the body is at rest and during exercise. Muscle function deteriorates during exercise for those with coronary artery disease.
Heart valve function can also be assessed when a Doppler microphone is utilized during an echo test. It measures the speed of blood flow in the heart.
Echo images which are difficult to obtain such as during heart surgery, can be acquired through trans-esophageal echocardiography.
Echocardiogram provides vital data regarding the heart’s structure. It is used to examine the heart muscle as a whole and is applicable to detect issues with heart valves including aortic stenosis or mitral valve prolapsed as well as congenital heart disease.
Echocardiogram cannot be applied for coronary arteries, however, and cannot detect coronary artery disease. It cannot accurately measure overall heart muscle function. There are physical hindrances such as a thick chest wall which may hamper the imaging functionality of echocardiogram.