The study of echocardiography or the generation of images of the heart using various investigational techniques is referred to broadly as echocardiology.
Echocardiograms are ultrasound images of the heart taken end-to-end, hence often called ‘transthoracic’ echocardiograms. They are also referred to as ‘echoes’ in short. Just like an ECG, echocardiograms are non-invasive techniques of imaging too and do not involve causing any harm to the patient directly.
How are echocardiograms performed?
Echocardiologists use supersonic waves of high frequency to generate either two-dimensional or three-dimensional imaging of the heart, often employing the Doppler ultrasound technique.
The imaging procedure usually lasts about 20-45 minutes and provides a comprehensive picture of your heart to the cardiologist. Everything from the musculature to the pumping capabilities of your heart can be assessed via this invaluable test. You are neither required to carry special items for the procedure nor put inside large round machines for hours on end. You need to unbutton your shirt and let the sonographers take care of the rest.
How useful are echocardiograms to your cardiologist?
The echocardiology technique plays a significant role in clinical cardiology to help your cardiologist determine and differentiate between symptoms of a plethora of heart diseases like valvular dysfunction, myocardial infarction, pericarditis, infective endocarditis, cardiac tumors, various forms of cardiomyopathies, and even congenital heart disease.
Apart from diagnostic purposes, echocardiograms also have high predictive value and are used to assess heart valve disease progress and the efficacy of a previous surgical procedure or medication regime on your heart. To summarize, echocardiography is massively important to cardiologists in assessing a patient’s heart’s overall functioning.
Perhaps the greatest advantage of this straightforward yet invaluable test is that it is non-invasive and doesn’t involve breaking one’s skin or entering their body cavities, hence posing no known side-effects or risks.