What is an Echocardiogram?
Through the use of high-frequency sound waves, an echocardiogram provides doctors with an outline of the internal structure of the heart. It creates images in cross-section slices so that the valves and chambers can be viewed to see how the heart is functioning.
What are Echocardiograms used for?
Your doctor may recommend an echocardiogram if they suspect dysfunction in the valves or chambers of the heart. Common conditions that are found during this procedure are:
Valve disease occurs when one or more of the heart’s four valves aren’t working properly. Each valve has tissue that opens and closes when the heart beats, ensuring that blood flows in the right direction.
Usually the result of a blockage in the arteries, myocardial disease reduces blood flow to the heart.
The pericardium is a sac that envelops the heart and helps keep it in the correct position. Pericardial disease occurs when this tissue becomes inflamed and possibly rubs against the heart.
This issue occurs when the endocardium, the smooth membrane that lines the inside of the heart’s chambers, becomes infected with bacteria.
Cardiac masses are cancerous and non-cancerous growths that attach to the heart and heart valves.
What are the different types of Echocardiograms
- Transthoracic Echocardiography. This is the most common form of echocardiography. A transthoracic echocardiogram gets a view of the heart with a transducer. The transducer is, basically, a microphone/receiver. It sends sound into the chest and then picks it back up, using the lag between to image the heart.
- Stress Echocardiography. This test is designed to show how effectively your heart pumps blood. A resting heart rate cardiogram will be done first, likely using transthoracic echocardiography. Then, a stress test will be administered, using small patches that detect the electric signal from the heart. This allows the doctor to monitor the functionality of the heart throughout the test.
- Doppler Echocardiography. This test uses the same transduction technology to monitor the directional flow of blood throughout the heart and blood vessels.
- Transesophageal Echocardiography. For this test, a patient will be sedated and given anesthetic. A probe will be inserted into the esophagus through the mouth. The heart is closer to the esophagus than it is to the outside of the chest, so this process can provide a clearer image of the heart than a transthoracic echocardiogram.
- Fetal Echocardiography. Fetal echocardiography is used to view the heart of an unborn fetus. Commonly this will be done over the abdomen (abdominal ultrasound), but it can also be done through the vagina, using a technique called endovaginal ultrasound.
- Three-Dimensional Echocardiography. Three-Dimensional diagnostic imaging removes many of the limitations of two-dimensional echocardiography by offering unique, non-invasive vision of the heart. It allows for real-time, direct monitoring of the valves and chambers of the heart. It uses multiple transducers and digital technology to combine the images into a model.
Getting an Echocardiogram in Sussex County, NJ
For more information on getting an echocardiogram at Cardiology Associates of Sussex County, contact us at (973) 579-2100 today.