This test uses sound waves to create an image of the
heart. The technique is called echocardiography. The resulting image
is called the echocardiogram.
An echocardiogram helps a doctor evaluate a person's
heart's valves and chambers. The sound waves are reflected differently
by each part of the heart, resulting in a complex series of echoes
which can be detected & displayed visually.
It is done to detect structural, & some functional,
abnormalities of the heart wall, heart valves, & the heart's
large blood vessels. Blood flow across valves is also measured.
It is a harmless & pain free procedure. For this
test, the doctor or technician places a device called a transducer
on the chest and aims it at the heart. The transducer sends out
and receives sound waves that bounce off the heart. A computer takes
these returning sound waves, or echoes, and turns them into a picture
of the heart.
A normal echocardiogram displays normal heart chambers
and valves. It also shows normal heart movement.
An abnormal echocardiogram may indicate -
heart valve disease
cardiomyopathy, or a weakening of the heart muscle
fluid in the sac around the heart
blood clots in the heart
other heart abnormalities