What Does An Echocardiogram Show?
An echocardiogram is used to show possible abnormalities of the heart structure and function that may be the cause for symptoms thought to be related to heart disease. An echocardiogram shows us the structure and function of the heart. It provides information on the heart pumping function and heart size. It shows us information on the heart valves and other structures in the heart. An echocardiogram also shows patterns of blood flow through the heart.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Who Needs An Echocardiogram?
Patients may be referred for an echocardiogram for a variety of different reasons. It may be due to symptoms concerning for heart disease such as shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness and other related symptoms. It may be to investigate a murmur heard on physical exam. It may also be to monitor existing heart conditions such as valve problems or heart failure.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Heart Pumping and Relaxing Function
An echocardiogram gives us accurate information on the pumping function of the heart. The echocardiogram will be used to calculate the ejection fraction of the heart, which is the percentage of blood that the heart pumps out with each beat. Normal ejection fraction is 50-60%. The echocardiogram also provides information on the relaxation of the heart. Heart failure can be caused by both pumping and relaxing abnormalities. Echocardiography will show information on both the left and the right side of the heart.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Patients With Chest Pain
In patients with chest pain there are a number of different possible causes, some of which can be assessed by echocardiography. If artery blockages are suspected the echocardiogram may show abnormalities in the walls of the heart supplied by those arteries. These are known as wall motion abnormalities. In cases of pericarditis, which is inflammation of the lining around the heart there may be fluid accumulation around the heart known as a pericardial effusion.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Heart Valve Function
Echocardiograms show structure and function of the 4 valves in the heart. The aortic valve, the mitral valve, the tricuspid valve and the pulmonic valve. They can show abnormalities in valve function such as tight or leaky heart valves. A tight aortic valve is known as aortic stenosis. A leaky aortic valve is known as aortic regurgitation. A tight mitral valve is known as mitral stenosis and a leaky mitral valve is known as mitral regurgitation. Echocardiograms can be used to show the degree of tightening or leakiness of a heart valve and help us to make decisions regarding need for intervention.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Heart Size
Echocardiography is used to provide information on heart size. It can provide accurate dimensions of the chambers of the heart and also the thickness of the heart walls. It can therefore be used to detect heart chamber or wall enlargement known as hypertrophy. Echocardiography will provide information on both the left and right side of the heart.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Patterns Of Blood Flow
Doppler is a type of echocardiography that can show patterns of blood flow through the heart. Doppler can give us an idea of pressures inside the heart and detect those that may be abnormally high. Color Doppler may be used to examine for leaky or tight heart valves.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Advanced Analysis
Most newer generation echocardiography machines will incorporate 3D acquisition that can render the heart as a 3D image showing life like structure and function. Various characteristics such as heart strain can be examined to provide highly detailed information about the heart tissue function. These features are not typically reported on a standard echocardiogram.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Guidance Of Procedures
Echocardiography can be used to guide certain heart procedures such as the Mitraclip procedure, the TAVR procedure, paravalvular leak repair, mitral valvuloplasty, alcohol septal ablation and many others. In many cases advanced techniques such as 3D transesophageal echocardiography may be required. These techniques can provide real-time 3D lifelike images that can guide procedures remarkably well.
What Does An Echocardiogram Show – Surveillance Over Time
Many heart disorders will need to be monitored over time to ensure they stay stable and don’t worsen and to assess response to therapy. Echocardiography is a highly reliable way to show changes in heart structure and function over time.