An echocardiogram is a scan that uses sound waves to produce images of your heart and nearby blood vessels. It is a common test that allows your doctor to establish if you have a problem with your heart. Although the names are almost similar, an echocardiogram Upper East Side differs from an electrocardiogram – a test used to check your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
Types of echocardiogram
There are different types of echocardiograms; the one your specialist uses depends on the information they need. The different types of echocardiograms include:
- Transthoracic echocardiogram
This is the standard type of echocardiogram whereby a technician uses a transducer to record sound wave echoes from your heart, which a computer converts into moving images on a monitor. In cases where lungs or ribs block the view, the technician injects a small amount of enhancing agent through an intravenous line to make your heart’s structure show up more clearly on a monitor.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram
Your doctor or specialist may recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram if they want more detailed images or they can’t get a clear picture of your heart with a standard echocardiogram. Before the test, you will be given a sedative to relax; you may also need to avoid eating for several hours before this test.
- Stress echocardiogram
This test is carried out after a period of exercise on a treadmill or after receiving medication that makes your heart work harder.
What happens during an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram can take place in the hospital or your doctor’s office. There are various ways an echocardiogram can be carried out depending on the type but below is what happens during a standard transthoracic echocardiogram.
- You will undress from your waist and lie on an exam bed or table. You may be given a hospital gown to cover yourself during the test.
- Your specialist will attach small sticky sensors called electrodes to your body. These patches detect and conduct your heart’s electrical currents.
- The technician will apply a lubricating gel directly to the transducer to improve the conduction of sound waves.
- Your specialist will move the transducer back and forth to record images of sound waves and echoes from your heart. You may hear a swishing noise as the ultrasound records blood flowing through your heart.
- You may need to roll onto your left side and breathe in a certain way
How safe is an echocardiogram?
A standard transthoracic echocardiogram is a safe test with no risks involved. However, during the test, you may feel discomfort as your specialist holds the transducer firmly against your chest; firmness is vital to produce clear images of your heart.
For a transesophageal echocardiogram, your throat may feel sore afterward. Although rare, the tube can scrape the inside of your throat. During the exam, your oxygen level will be monitored to ensure the sedation medication does not affect your breathing.
As for a stress echocardiogram, you may experience irregular heartbeat due to exercise or medication. Severe side effects such as heart attacks rarely occur.
If you have further questions about an echocardiogram, consult your specialist at Upper East Side Cardiology.