Echocardiography is a heart ultrasound examination method.
Echocardiography examinations allow one to determine a heart’s anatomical structure, dimensions of chambers and auricles, their systole capacity, thickness of the heart walls, existence of scars or clots (for example, after a myocardial infarction), evaluate the condition and function of heart valves, as well as myocardial functional condition. The degree of heart insufficiency, acquired or congenital heart diseases are diagnosed by this examination method; heart systolic and diastolic function is determined, the condition of the heart valves is evaluated, as well as the reason for high blood pressure discovered.
By additionally applying dopplerography methods the blood flow in the heart and valve function may be evaluated. The methods are non-invasive, completely harmless for a patient and examinations may also be performed for children and pregnant women.
An echocardiography examination is necessary in the following cases:
- changed heart tones or noise heard in the heart;
- decreased amount of oxygen in the blood (determined by special equipment) or skin and mucous membrane are a bluish colour;
- it is necessary to evaluate the heart function rates after myocarditis, endocarditis (inflammation processes in the heart);
- chemotherapy medications have been taken (anti-cancer medications) or other medications affecting heart function;
- heart pain, short wind, reduced physical load endurance;
- increased heart shadow in the chest x-ray;
- if a child often has bronchitis or asthma;
- high blood pressure;
- heart muscle diseases in the family
(dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy);
- congenital heart (heart diseases in the family, cases of sudden death in the family, etc.);
- Kawasaki disease;
- suspicion of a heart disease;
- changes in the electrocardiogram ( ECG ).
Process of the echocardiography and preparation:
An echocardiography examination lasts for 15-20 minutes. During the examination a receiver similar to a microphone and covered with jelly is placed on the stomach and chest which form moving heart images in the screen by means of ultrasound. It is a painless and harmless examination method (without radiation). The examination may be done at any age.
Special preparation is not necessary.