The echo cardiograph (ECG) is carried out order to check for possible abnormalities in the heart. The test uses sound waves (ultrasound) to create images of different parts of the heart. The doctor can interpret these pictures to check for damage due to high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, diagnose poor blood flow to the heart and heart attacks, and enlargement in any part of the heart. It helps in measuring the size and shape of the heart and the thickness of the heart muscles. Various types of the test exist, such as stress echocardiography, transesophageal echocardiography, fetal echocardiography and transthoracic echocardiography.
No special preparation is required for a normal echo cardiograph test. Comfortable and loose clothes should be worn for the test. The doctor should be informed of prior medical history and medications. In case of stress test, specific instructions would be given. In case of transesophageal echocardiograph food and drink should be avoided for a few hours before the test.
Used in diagnoses of heart attacks or heart failure by assessing the damage to the heart muscles. Used to detect congenital heart defects and measure the size and strength of the heart. Used to detect problems in the heart valves or chambers. Used to detect signs of coronary heart disease. The test is also used to check for clots, tumors and leakages in the heart valves.
A gown is given to the patient to wear during the test and the clothing is removed from above the waist. The patient is made to lie on a table and lead electrodes are stuck to the chest with the help of stickers. The electrodes are connected to an electrocardiogram or an ECG machine with the help of wires. A special gel is put on chest to allow sound waves to pass through the chest. A transducer is moved across the chest which produces sound waves that are reflected off the heart and back to it. Pressure is applied at different points to get the best picture of the heart. The sound waves are converted into images and recorded on a video monitor. The pictures are interpreted by the doctor and treatment is prescribed.