Definition Of Echocardiography :
An echocardiography, echocardiogram, cardiac echo or simply an echo, is an ultrasound of the heart. It is a type of medical imaging of the heart, using standard ultrasound or Doppler ultrasound.
Echocardiography or echo, is a painless test that uses sound waves to create moving pictures of your heart. The pictures show the size and shape of your heart. They also show how well your heart’s chambers and valves are working.
The most commonly used technique among these is transthoracic echocardiography (TTE). This allows the clinician to obtain real-time sizes, structure, and function of the heart during the cardiac cycle. Another useful and important use of these methods is stress echocardiography. Stress echocardiography is the combination of standard transthoracic echocardiography and either pharmacological or physical stress to the cardiac structures to assess wall motion abnormalities. Physical stresses may include running on a treadmill, and pharmacological stress, including medications. When higher resolution imaging of cardiac structures, including valves, is required, transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is considered. TEE is more invasive than standard TTE, as it requires the insertion of a probe into the patient’s esophagus to obtain images not hindered by the patient’s chest wall, including; muscle, tissue, and bone. When more accurate and even higher-resolution imaging is needed, during intracardiac procedures, intracardiac echocardiography (ICE) is an option that can be considered.
Echocardiography is a low cost, at times minimally invasive, and readily available test that can provide information that can change the treatment course, and in some cases, provide real-time life-saving information.
Your doctor may recommend echocardiography (echo) if you have signs or symptoms of heart problems.
- For example, shortness of breath and swelling in the legs are possible signs of heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to meet your body’s needs. Echo can show how well your heart is pumping blood.
- Echo also can help your doctor find the cause of abnormal heart sounds, such as heart murmurs. Heart murmurs are extra or unusual sounds heard during the heartbeat. Some heart murmurs are harmless, while others are signs of heart problems.
Types of Echocardiography
There are several types of echocardiography (echo)—all use sound waves to create moving pictures of your heart. This is the same technology that allows doctors to see an unborn baby inside a pregnant woman.
Transthoracic echo is the most common type of echocardiogram test. It’s painless and noninvasive. “Noninvasive” means that no surgery is done and no instruments are inserted into your body.
Stress echo is done as part of a stress test. During a stress test, you exercise or take medicine (given by your doctor) to make your heart work hard and beat fast. A technician will use echo to create pictures of your heart before you exercise and as soon as you finish.
Your doctor may have a hard time seeing the aorta and other parts of your heart using a standard transthoracic echo. Thus, he or she may recommend transesophageal echo, or TEE.
A three-dimensional (3D) echo creates 3D images of your heart. These detailed images show how your heart looks and works.During transthoracic echo or TEE, 3D images can be taken as part of the process used to do these types of echo. (See above for more information about how transthoracic echo and TEE are done.)
Integration of new technologies
Technological advancement has led to the development of new innovative ways that increase the credibility and functionality of echocardiogram devices. The rise of AI technology has dramatically changed echocardiogram services. AI can eliminate the human errors that occur during the procedure. Another technological trend is the Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS). POCUS not only provides more detailed information, but also is an effective tool that can lower the cost of advanced imaging, enhance patient care and safety, and boost doctor-patient interactions, resulting in higher patient satisfaction. Furthermore, 3D imaging is also becoming popular as it can improve the accuracy of the echocardiographic evaluation of cardiac chambers. In addition, 3D imaging offers realistic and unique comprehensive images of cardiac valves and congenital abnormalities. Along with this technological trend, the growing prevalence of heart-related diseases globally is creating an opportunity for the market players to develop innovative technologies in echocardiography that are more sustainable and affordable.
Echocardiography, with its wide range of modalities, is a great tool in the diagnosis and follow-up of adult patients with CHD. It provides comprehensive assessment of anatomy and physiology and contributes significantly to clinical management many years after surgical or catheter interventional procedures.