Echocardiography (EcoCG) is a method to examine a person’s heart, in which an organ is affected by ultrasound waves, which allows an accurate image of the sensor to be transmitted to the screen, and a visual image is obtained of the cardiac condition.
The identical name of this examination method is ultrasound of the heart (ultrasound).
During the survey, the human body has no harmful effects, it is not toxic, it does not have radiation.
Therefore, echocardiography is used to examine the heart in any category of people, including women who have a child, as well as children of any age, including newborns.
What is echocardiography?
Heart ultrasound involves a method of examination, which is based on the use of ultrasonic waves. The lifting is done by a special sensor connected to the equipment, which emits high frequency ultrasonic waves.
The waves that reach the heart are reflected in it, and the sensor itself captures them. After that, the sensor data is transmitted to a special device, which transforms it into an image and displays it on the screen.
When performing an echocardiogram, you can evaluate the following cardiac parameters:
During the ultrasound examination, the following parameters can be evaluated and a series of diseases diagnosed:
In medicine, it is generally accepted to take the normal heart rhythms that are listed in the following table:
The method is very informative and is used in many cases of diagnosis of diseases. The viability of the ultrasound examination is considered by the attending physician.
What is the difference between echocardiography and ECG?
The main advantage of this research method is that it can be applied to patients of any age and almost any condition. The method is absolutely safe for both pregnant women and babies.
The pricing policy is affordable for all segments of the population. During the procedure, there is no exposure or side effects.
Basically, the procedure is carried out in 10-15 minutes, but it can last up to forty-five minutes. It offers a complete and extensive description of the functional and structural characteristics of the heart.
In the case of an electrocardiogram, the data is displayed on the device as a graph, and it is not possible to visually examine the heart. The performance of an electrocardiogram can detect alterations in the heart rhythm that cause additional nervous excitations.
In addition, this study provides more opportunities to evaluate correct heart rhythms, normal functional functioning of the heart and its individual parts. The main difference between echocardiography and ECG is that these studies study different types of cardiac disorders.
Types of exam
The performance of all studies of the heart with different types of echocardiography occurs predominantly without internal intervention in the body.
Among the varieties that emit:
- One-dimensional echocardiography. A standard ultrasound effect is performed on the heart, after which the data on the structural features of the heart are displayed on the monitor. The only difference is that the data is presented on the monitor in the form of a graph, which determines the exact size of the heart and evaluates the functionality, the size of the ventricles and the atria. It is very rarely used.
- Two-dimensional echocardiography. The data received by the sensor is transmitted to the monitor and displayed as a visual display of the organ in shades of grayish white. The image shown accurately transmits the structure of the heart, its visible contractions, the work of the heart valves. With the help of this study, we can estimate the size of the entire heart and its individual chambers, as well as assess whether the ventricular contractions are normal and determine the thickness of the myocardial walls and valves.
- Doppler echocardiography. The use of ultrasound of this type is performed in the presence of two-dimensional echocardiography. This type of study is done to correct the circulation of blood within the heart. During the normal functioning of a healthy heart, blood flows in one direction, but in pathological conditions, the reverse flow of blood is recorded. During Doppler echocardiography, blood streams are shown on the screen in red and blue colors, which depend on the direction of blood flow. The study also determines the speed of blood flow and measures the size of the vessel through which the blood flows. The test can be done independently, but, in most cases, it is used in conjunction with one of the above methods of ultrasound of the heart.
In Doppler ultrasound, the blood flow is highlighted on the monitor in blue and red, depending on its orientation.
- Contrast echocardiography. This version of the study is done to more accurately visualize the structure of the heart. With contrast echocardiography, a special substance is injected into the blood, followed by a standard two-dimensional ultrasound examination.
- Stress echocardiography. With such an examination, the echocardiography procedure is performed after the physical activities of the patient. This type of ultrasound helps to detect hidden pathological conditions of the heart, diseases of the early stages of development that show no symptoms. The realization of such a study is designated in certain cases. Among them are:
- Determination of the risks of progression of loads in preparation for surgery in the heart
- Determine normal vascular permeability.
- If the doctor suspects ischemia of the heart (insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle), which is not determined by other diagnostic methods
- Control the effectiveness of therapy for ischemic attacks.
- When predicting ischemia after the injury.
The contraindications for stress echocardiography are:
The protrusion of the aortic wall, its expansion.
- Thrombosis of any vessel.
- Acute heart, kidney, liver or respiratory failure
- Heavy stage of the dying tissue of the heart muscle.
- Transesophageal echocardiography (CPEFI). The transducer, produced by ultrasonic waves, is placed in the esophagus through the throat. Such a sensor has a small dimension and almost does not cause discomfort. Such ultrasound is done only in specialized clinics. The indications for the use of this study are:
- Possible pathological expansion of the aorta.
- Suspected structural defect of the atrial septum.
- Possible thrombosis in the left atrium.
- Mitral valve examination in the preparation stage for surgery
- Inflammatory processes of the aorta and heart valves.
- Suspected impairment of the function of the implanted heart valve
- Perform a study before using a cardioverter, which helps restore the heart rhythms during arrhythmias, acting on the heart with electrical impulses.
- If necessary, the use of ultrasound, but the inability to carry it out in the above ways.
The contraindications for CPEFI are the following:
- Improved gag reflex
- Bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Violation of the integrity of all layers of the esophagus as a result of illness or injury
- Severe damage to the intervertebral discs and spinal tissue in the neck
- Large hernia
- Inflammatory disease of the esophageal wall of radiological origin.
- Tumor formations in the esophagus.
- Varices of the esophagus.
The choice of the research method is made by the attending physician based on the complaints and the individual characteristics of the patient.
To whom is echocardiography assigned?
An appointment is made for an echocardiography study in the case of a patient’s complaints about the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- The presence of symptoms of heart failure.
Swelling of the legs
- Growth of the size of the liver
- Death of cardiac muscle tissue
- Ischemic attacks
- Rapid fatigue
- Heavy breathing
- Air deficiency
- Bleaching of the skin
- Blue skin tones on lips, ears, arms and legs.
In addition, the use of ultrasound of the heart is used in the case of:
- After suffering chest injuries.
- In the stage of preparation for surgery in the heart.
- To diagnose heart defects.
- Control the normal operation of implantable valves.
- Patients with constant high blood pressure.
- Vasoconstriction due to cholesterol deposits in the walls of blood vessels
- Control the effectiveness of oncology therapy.
If one of the above symptoms is found, go to the hospital for an exam. This will help you avoid serious burdens and avoid possible death.
How is the survey?
Echocardiography does not involve complex actions. For the examination, the patient should take off all the clothes above the waist and lie horizontally on the sofa, on the left side.
This position will give you a more accurate picture of the heart.
The place of application of the sensor is lubricated with a special gel, which helps to pass the ultrasound waves through the skin.
After that, a sensor is applied and an examination is performed. Ultrasound waves affect the heart, reflecting on it.
The data transmitted from the sensor is recorded on the screen and recorded by the doctor in the results of the analysis.
After the analysis, it is recommended to take a towel or napkins with you to remove the gel from the skin.
In addition to the diagnosis of diseases, it is recommended to undergo echocardiography once a year for a routine examination. In the case of pregnant women, an ultrasound of the heart should be performed around the twelfth week of pregnancy.
There is no need for a specific algorithm to prepare for echocardiography.
The only preparation conditions are:
Stop eating at least ten hours before the ultrasound.
- Avoid stress on the eve of the analysis.
- Refusing drinks and liquors that contain caffeine on the eve of the survey
- Immobility during the analysis.
It is necessary to exclude, for several days, the factors that can stimulate myocardial life, which will lead to inaccurate test results.
The following factors also influence the obtaining of false testimony:
- Quality equipment Modern equipment is more accurate and provides more data on the structure and functionality of the heart.
- The level of training of the specialist who performs the study. The correct positioning of the patient and the sensor attachment will significantly improve the quality of the received data.
- The anatomical characteristics of the patient (serious violations of the thorax, a large amount of excess weight) – this leads to difficulties in reading the indications. In such cases, transesophageal echocardiography or MRI is recommended.
Deciphering the results and who should do this?
Direct decoding of the results of echocardiography should be performed by a qualified specialist. According to the ultrasound, in most cases, the diagnosis is not made.
It must be confirmed by other survey methods.
The evaluation of the results and the additional decision on each individual patient is made by the attending physician. Echocardiography is not an independent research method.
How much does echocardiography cost?
The pricing policy for echocardiography depends on the type of research.
The average prices for heart ultrasound are shown in the following table: