Echocardiography is an ultrasound scan used to create pictures of the heart. It uses high–frequency sound waves to assess the structure and functioning of the heart valves and chambers. Generally, it is recommended for diagnosing heart conditions like atherosclerosis, cardiac tumor, atrial wall defects, or congenital heart disease. The test is also called diagnostic cardiac ultrasound.
How is Echocardiography performed? :
The patient will be asked to remove the clothing from the waist up and change it into a hospital gown. He will then be asked to lie on a table on his left side. Sometimes, the technicians keep a pillow or wedge to support the patient’s back. Once the patient is in the proper position, several electrodes are attached to his chest. The electrodes have wires that are hooked to the electrocardiograph (ECG) monitor. This monitors the patient’s heartbeat throughout the procedure. A lubricating gel is then applied to the patient’s chest, and a transducer probe is placed over it. The technician moves the probe to get the desired images of the heart. While moving the probe, the patient might feel a slight pressure on his chest.
Occasionally, he is asked to move, hold his breath, or take deep breaths briefly to get more transparent images. The probe produces sound waves that bounce off the heart and echo back. These waves are converted to a picture and displayed on a video monitor. These images are recorded and shown to the doctor. After the procedure, the gel is wiped off, and the ECG electrodes are removed. After this, he can change into his clothes. An intravenous contrast dye is injected if the technician cannot see the heart chambers correctly. During the entire scan, the room will be darkened to clearly allow the technician to view the echo monitor images clearly.
Are there any risks involved in it? :
Echocardiography is a non – invasive and painless test that has little to no risks associated with it. The possible complications include discomfort due to the positioning of the transducer and allergic reactions to the contrast dye.
What preparations are required from the patient?
It may not be necessary to fast before the test. The doctor must be notified about the medications consumed by the patient. If the patient has any surgical implants or pacemakers in his body, this must be informed beforehand. All jewelry and metal objects that may interfere with the test must be removed before the test. 1
How long does it take?
The entire scan gets over in about 15 to 60 minutes.
Who performs it?
It is performed by cardiac sonographers or echocardiographers in a hospital.
How much does Echocardiography cost?
The cost of echocardiography ranges from Rs. 800 to Rs. 3K.
When can I go home after the procedure?
The patient is generally allowed to resume his normal activities and go home immediately after the test.