Absolute Medical offers a selection of echocardiography ultrasound machines from industry leading
manufacturers including Acuson, Biosound, GE and Philips. These
ultrasound machines assess the size, structure and movement of the heartís
chambers and valves. They can pinpoint areas of weakened heart muscle
contraction, determine blood flow rates and pressure, detect possible tumors
and blood clots in the heart, expose fluid build up in the pericardium, reveal
problems with the aorta, and catch possible heart and cardiovascular diseases.
External transducers are used to perform transthoracic echocardiograms (TTE),
stress echocardiograms, and doppler echocardiograms. Internal transducers
are used during transesophageal echocardiograms (TEE).
Echocardiography provides 3D images and, as high-frequency sound
waves have not been shown to have any harmful effects, they may be performed
safely on adults, children and infants.
An echocardiogram, also called a cardiac echo or echo, is a sonogram of the heart. Echocardiography creates images of the heart using standard two-dimensional, three dimensional, and Doppler ultrasound.
An echocardiogram is among the most commonly used tests for diagnosis in cardiology. Echocardiography is used to diagnose, manage, and follow up on patients who are thought to have heart disease. Detailed information such as the size and shape of the heart including the internal chamber size quantification, the pumping capacity, and the location and extent of any tissue damage can all be obtained via echocardiogram imaging. The echocardiogram also provides estimates of heart function including cardiac output, ejection fraction, and diastolic function (which is how well the heart relaxes).
Echocardiography can be used to detect cardiomyopathies, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, and other irregularities of the heart function. The use of stress echocardiography can determine if chest pain or other symptoms are connected to heart disease. The non-invasive aspect of echocardiography is one of key advantages of these tests, because it is not necessary to break the skin or enter body cavities to perform the test. As such, there arenít any known risks or adverse side effects of cardiography.
An echocardiogram creates ultrasound images of heart structures and can provide an accurate portrait of the blood flow through the heart by using Doppler echocardiography, which is a pulsed- or continuous-wave Doppler ultrasound. The Doppler allows the assessment of both normal and abnormal heart blood flow. Color Doppler and spectral Doppler are used to capture images of abnormal communications between the heartís left and right sides, detect any leaking of blood through heart valves (called valvular regurgitation), and provide estimates about how well the valves open (or not, as with valvular stenosis). Tissue Doppler echocardiography is also used to detect tissue motion and velocity.
Echocardiography is recommended as an initial diagnostic tool when a change in the patientís clinical status occurs and new data from the echocardiogram would point to a need for a change in patient care. Routine testing is not recommended if there is no change in clinical status or if patient care would not be changed due to test results. For example, a common practice of overuse of the echocardiogram is routine testing in the case of mild valvular heart disease. Patients are normally asymptomatic for many years before the onset of heart deterioration, and the echocardiogram results would not indicate a change in care, unless there was some other change in clinical status.
Another name for a standard echocardiogram is the transthoracic echocardiogram, or cardiac ultrasound. The echocardiography probe is placed on the patientís chest wall or thorax, and the images are taken through the chest wall. This method provides a completely noninvasive, accurate and thorough yet quick picture of the complete health status of the heart function.
A stress echocardiogram, which is also called a stress echo, uses ultrasound imaging of the heart in order to calculate the wall motion in response to physical stress. First, images of the heart are taken when the patient is resting, in order to provide a wall motion baseline. Then the patient will walk or run on a treadmill to increase the heart rate to a targeted rate. At that point, more images are taken of the stressed heart to assess the wall motion at the peak of the heart rate. While a stress echo will assess the motion of the heart, it does not capture images of the coronary arteries. As such, coronary arteries can be responsible for wall motion abnormality, which could be an indicator of coronary artery disease. However, this test can only be conducted with cardiac catheterization, while the stress echo is a non-invasive test performed by a cardiac sonographer and supervised by a cardiologist.