An echocardiogram (Echo) is a non-invasive way to look into the body using sound waves. Most today are familiar with the Ultrasound device. It is one of the most common imaging tools seen by expecting parents, allowing them to observe the growth of their baby without causing any harm to the developing infant.
In the same way an Ultrasound shows the heartbeat of a baby and other measurements, the echocardiogram measures the heart or other organs. The Echo test permits Kymera Radiologists to…
- Learn whether heart valves are properly functioning
- Understand the pumping strength of the heart
- Know if blood is leaking backwards through heart valves
- Determine if the heart valves have grown narrow
- Tell if a tumor or other growth has appeared around valves
- Know the shape and size of a patient’s heart as well as measure the size and thickness of heart walls.
- Determine if there are problems with the pericardium (outer lining of the heart)
- Determine if there are problems with the large vessels which allow blood to enter and exit the heart
- Identify blood clots in heart chambers
- Identify other abnormalities such as holes between heart chambers.
How Does an Echocardiogram Ultrasound Work?
Most people know about an echo. It is a sound which returns to the point of origin. We stand on a mountainside or similar location, yell, and our voice carries then returns in waves called an echo.
The echocardiogram or Echo Test does the same thing. It uses high frequency sound waves. These sound waves enter the body and bounce off the organ to be studied. As the waves return they are recorded and converted into images using a special computer. This is called Computed Tomography or CT.
The Echo test is often used along with the EKG, which is another standard test many heart patients are familiar with. The EKG, or electrocardiogram uses sound as well, but the sound is direct whereas the Echo uses bouncing sound waves. Both tests allow doctors to better diagnose heart disease and monitor progress.
What Should Patients Know When Getting an Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram generally takes only about 20 minutes to complete. About five minutes will be used in preparation and patient positioning. The remaining time is used in obtaining images of the heart.
Patients are advised to wear loose, comfortable clothing for the exam. Men typically remove their shirt during the procedure while women may wear their bra, a light blouse, or patient gown. We also advise comfortable shoes such as sneakers
Three hours before taking the test, do not eat or drink. Be sure your doctor is aware of all medications you are taking.
And yes, the echocardiogram is safe. It is a non-invasive, painless test.
Kymera Radiology Echocardiogram Imaging
Kymera Independent Physicians’ skilled imaging technicians and Radiologists use state-of-the-art equipment. We use only the best equipment possible to help diagnose heart conditions, view internal swelling, and assess damage after a heart attack. Each technician will take care to help you be as comfortable as possible during all imaging procedures and will gladly answer any questions you have.