An echocardiogram test helps in getting idea about heart beats pattern and its frequency of pumping blood. Doctors make use of sound waves to produce images of heart. Echocardiogram is a very common test prescribed by the doctor to identify any sort of heart related disorder.There are different types of echocardiogram available and depending on the requirement doctors prescribes the most appropriate echocardiogram test. The list of echocardiogram test includes:
- Stress echocardiogram
- Doppler echocardiogram
- Transesophageal echocardiogram
- Transthoracic echocardiogram.
Usually doctors recommend echocardiogram test when they suspect problem with heart’s chambers or valve. Some of the common symptoms of this problem include breathlessness and chest ache. This is not the end the test is also effective identifying congenital heart problem in unborn fetus.
How Do You Prepare For an Echocardiogram?
No significant preparations are required before conducting the transthoracic echocardiogram. Patients are free to eat and drink whatever they wish to have and can also take their regular medicines. However, patient who are opting for stress and transesophageal echocardiogram are asked to remain empty stomach few hours before conducting the test. One more thing that needs to be considered is that in case the patient faces any problem in swallowing then they should inform about this to their doctor. Based on this information doctors decide whether or not conduct this test.
During the treadmill stress echocardiogram, patients are suggested to wear slightly loose cloths and comfortable shoes. Also, patient going for transesophageal echocardiogram should make prior arrangement of returning back home because during or after the test patient may be given sedating medication (if required).
During the Test
Echocardiogram Test can be done either in hospital or in doctor’s clinic. Patients are asked to get undressed from the waist and then lie down on the examination table. Doctor or nurse then sticks electrodes to patient body, this way current is flown to heart. They stick electrodes with the help of a gel that not only helps in sticking the electrodes with the body but also facilitates flow of sound waves and also removes air bubbles (if present) between the transducer and the skin of the patient. While test is on doctor make the lights dim so that they can clearly see the images that are drown on the monitor.
The doctor then moves the transducer throughout the body so that sound wave can travel everywhere and accordingly images are created on the monitor. This image is very help for doctors to analyze the condition and working of heart. Patient can hear the sound of blood flowing in their body from heart. In transesophageal echocardiogram the test is performed by inserting transducer into the esophagus. To make this process convenient and less painful doctors make the throat of the patient numb by spray or gel or by giving sedative medications.
Usually echocardiograms test takes almost or less than an hour to complete the test but trimmings is not fixed they vary depending on the condition of the patient. While the test is on doctor may ask the patient to breadth in a certain pattern or lie on their left side, at times transducer is pressed strongly on the chest of the patient this may seem very uncomfortable for the patient by it helps in getting clear and correct images of the heart.
Echocardiogram Test Results
Images drawn by echocardiogram on the monitor helps in understanding heart size, heart pumping strength, condition of the valve, heart defects (if present), damage caused to the muscles surrounding heart (if any) and so on. Usually, doctor focuses more on the valve and chambers of the hearts and then proceeds with the treatment.