Mar 9, 2016

ECHO Test – Types, Reasons, Risks and Results


An Echo Test, also known as echocardiogram is a form of ultrasound test that utilizes high-pitched waves of sound that get transmits through a device called a transducer. This device catches echoes of sound waves that bounce off to the various parts of the heart. The echoes get converts to digital images of the heart, which is visible on a video screen.

Types of Echo Test

Transthoracic Echocardiogram – It is the most common form of echo test, which places the probe or transducer on the chest wall of a human being. During the procedure, the sound waves bounce off the heart structures and the same transducer obtains the return signals and alters it into the visualized images on the screen with the aid of a computer.

Doppler Echocardiogram – It is the second form of echo test, which evaluates the pressure with which blood flows through the heart valves, heart chambers, and blood vessels within the entire body. The test reflects the blood movement in the form of sound waves of the transducer. The ultrasound computer then measures the speed and the direction of the blood flowing through vessels and heart. The measurements of the Doppler get picturized in white and black color.

Stress Echocardiogram – The third type of echo test measures the stress level of the heart. It is supportive in measuring different abnormalities within the muscle function, heart wall, and for this reason, the patient is advised to walk, exercise, or job before the test. It also helps checking that whether your heart is receiving adequate blood flow or not.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram – This is the last type of echo test where the probe moves down the esophagus instead of moving over or outside of the wall of the chest. It illustrates a better picture of your heart. It is because the bones and lungs of the chest wall do not obstruct the sound waves, which the probe generates. An anesthetic and sedative lotion are applied to the throat to make you feel comfortable during the entire procedure.

Reasons to get the Echo test done

Different types of echo tests are performed top judge distinct parameters within the heart. The Transthoracic test detects the presence of any abnormality in the heart. It detects the movement and thickness of the heart wall and check for the functioning of the heart valve. Ailments such as cardiomyopathy, tumors, and blood clots are conveniently detectable with the help of this procedure. 

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The transthoracic echo test is, on the other hand, helps find out congenital defects within it. If a patient has met with a surgery then its efficacy is easily detectable with this test. Therefore, if you have met with a heart failure or a heart attack or suspect of thickening of lining around the heart, or collection of fluids around the heart, then all this is detectable only through this test.

Doppler echocardiogram measures the speed of the blood traveling to the heart through the vessels. It is the test done to measure blood pressure and blood speed through different heart valves. Lastly, the stress evaluation monitors and identifies the reduction of blood flow to the heart muscles. Such a situation can occur due to high stress level and is combat with intake of medicine and exercise.

Preparing for the Echo Test

Since the results to obtain from each echo test are different, so even the procedure to carry them also varies. For the transthoracic test (TTE), transesophageal test (TEE), and Doppler test, there is no advance preparation required. If you are but availing stress test then you have to prepare a bit, before you actually get it done. You should avoid eating heavy or fried food, quite hours before you are going to the analysis. You may suffer from nausea if you opt to take the test after exercising with a full stomach. To ensure that there is no difficulty met during the entire procedure, you need to wear comfortable and flat shows, and lightweight and loose sweat pants for a stress echo test. It is advisable to ask your doctor in advance for the continuation of the medications and other insulin, which you might be taking earlier, or which the doctor has prescribed you earlier.

Risks of Echocardiogram

Echo test is safe, which utilizes only sound waves to examine the heart movements. There are no proven harmful effects of these sound waves. There are but chances of meeting a slight allergic reaction, after the test. It is because of use of the gels that applied on the body of the patient. In addition, the stress echo test can trigger dizziness, breath short, irregular heartbeats, low blood pressure, and heart attack, right after the test. It can even cause nausea, throat and mouth discomfort, abnormal and slow heartbeats and even minor bleeding.

You may avoid undergoing through the Echo test is you have:

  • Recently gone through a treatment via radiation for your chest or neck
  • Met with a bleeding disorder, like hemophilia
  • Encounter trouble Swallowing
  • Serious issues with your esophagus like dilated veins, narrow esophagus, bleeding or ruptured esophagus, or acute arthritis.

What you can expect after Echo test?

Once the echo test gets complete, your sonographer will first wipe off the gel from your body. Your doctor will then, talk you about your echo images and discuss what all results from your heart image reveals. This test does not involve X-rays but makes you show actual movement of your heart valves during the procedure. The Echo test lasts for around 1 to 1.5hrs and is painless. It not only shows the movement, but also the structure and size of various parts of your heart. These parts are the walls and the chambers of the heart.

Echo test is supportive in not only diagnosing major heart issues but also monitoring improvement and changes in the heart size and structure. So, if your doctor recommends you with this test then it is better you go for an immediate diagnose and get it done right away. 

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