ECHOCARDIOGRAM DEFINITIONAn echocardiogram is a medical test that uses sound waves to generate images of your heart. It's typically used to enable your doctor to check out how well your heart is pumping blood and beating. These images can be used to discern different abnormalities in your heart valves and muscles.
ECHOCARDIOGRAM PURPOSEAn echocardiogram is useful for detecting fetal congenital heart defects, searching for problems regarding your heart's chambers or valves and its ability to pump, and everything else relating to cardiac health.
ECHOCARDIOGRAM RISKSFirstly, for transthoracic echocardiograms, it may be painful to pull off the adhesive bandages that keep the electrodes on your body. Secondly, a transesophageal echocardiogram can cause short-term sore throat. You may also be allergic to sedation medication.
ECHOCARDIOGRAM PREPARATION REQUIREDYou don't need to prepare for a transthoracic echocardiogram. Stress or transesophageal echocardiograms require you to not eat for a few hours, though. Also, you can't drive after a transesophageal echocardiogram thanks to the sedatives given to you.
ECHOCARDIOGRAM PROCEDUREThere are different kinds of echocardiograms. Transthoracic echocardiogram is a noninvasive procedure that involves attaching electrodes to your chest (thorax). A Doppler echocardiogram uses Doppler signals. Both echocardiogram types require you to lie on an examination table while electrodes are attached on your body.
Transesophageal echocardiogram involves inserting a probe into your throat to get a better view of your heart. You will be sedated with a gel or numbing spray to help you relax. A stress echocardiogram is done during physical activity. The electrodes are attached to your body while you're undergoing exercises like running on a treadmill.
ECHOCARDIOGRAM COMPLICATIONSThere are no complications associated with transthoracic or Doppler echocardiograms. You may suffer from sedative allergies, breathing problems, and sore throat with transesophageal echocardiograms. Stress echocardiograms may give you arrhythmias or even a heart attack, although the latter complication is rare.
ECHOCARDIOGRAM SIDE EFFECTSTransthoracic or Doppler echocardiograms have no side effects. The immediate side effects of the sedatives required in transesophageal echocardiograms include tiredness and sleepiness. Exhaustion and irregular heartbeats are the typical side effects of undergoing a stress echocardiogram.
ECHOCARDIOGRAM RESULTSResults are given almost immediately after the test. If your echocardiogram is normal, no further testing may be required and you can go home afterwards. If the doctor finds something amiss, you may be referred to a cardiologist for further tests and examinations. Treatment depends on the outcome of the test and your specific symptoms.