An echocardiogram can be defined as an imaging modality that uses ultrasound to assess the movement and structures of the heart. Currently, an echocardiogram is becoming a common investigation for diagnosis and routine follow-up for patients with known or suspected heart disease. One might require an echocardiogram when they have diseases such as valvular heart disease, arrhythmias, and hypertrophic or dilated cardiomyopathy. The ultrasound identifies structural and functional abnormalities in the heart. Usually, there is an emission of sound waves to the heart, creating an image on a screen to allow for assessment of the heart rhythm and structure at different angles (“Echocardiogram,” 2021). Among the signs and symptoms that may require an echocardiogram include syncope, difficulty or shortness of breath, and fatigue. Before an echocardiogram test, one can do an electrocardiogram to check for the suggestive features of a structural problem in the heart.
The test allows the physician or the doctor to view the heart as it beats to concentrate on the areas of concern. For instance, the test can show the movement of the heart valves and, hence, is useful for detecting structural valvular diseases, e.g., mitral valve prolapse. The test also allows for the detection of blood flow limitations, such as in aortic disease, as the Doppler can measure the blood flow velocity. For congenital heart disease, an echocardiogram can be used for the diagnosis of atrial septal defect and tetralogy of Fallot. Additionally, the test can also be used for the evaluation of the effectiveness of cardiac failure treatment, as the test can measure the ejection fraction of the left ventricle (Klaeboe et al., 2019). Even though an echocardiogram can provide adequate information on the heart’s structure, it cannot visualize the coronary arteries and, therefore, is not easy to diagnose coronary artery blockages. However, if there is a need to do imaging of the coronary arteries, cardiac catheterization is the best imaging modality.
Echocardiogram. NHS.uk. (2021). Retrieved 2 December 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/echocardiogram/.
Klaeboe, L. G., & Edvardsen, T. (2019). Echocardiographic assessment of left ventricular systolic function. Journal of echocardiography, 17(1), 10-16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12574-018-0405-5
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Please go to this site (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apikal4D.gif) to watch an echocardiogram of real heart valves opening and closing. Also, read the description below the video. Discuss why you think this kind of imaging might be helpful. What kinds of issues or anomalies might it be able to detect? What might it not be able to detect?
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