ECHOCARDIOGRAM - HEART TRIPLEX
This frequently used examination allows the cardiologist to evaluate the anatomy and function of the heart, helping to identify possible cardiac problems.
- The dimensions of the heart and its cavities, the thickness of its walls and their mobility
-The contractile force of the heart, expressed by the ejection fraction, and the ability of the heart to expand normally
- The functionality of the heart valves and the presence of valve stenosis or insufficiency
- The existence of problems in the pericardium (the membrane covering the heart)
-The presence of thrombi within the heart cavities
- The exclusion of potential infections of the heart structures or the presence of tumors
- The dimensions and potential problems of large vessels carrying blood to and from the heart.
- The presence of pathological communications between the heart cavities
- A transthoracic echocardiogram (heart triplex)
This is the classical technique in which images are taken using a device called a transducer. This device is applied to the chest wall and images are viewed on a computer screen. The transthoracic echocardiogram is useful for highlighting most of the heart problems already mentioned;
In cases where it is difficult to obtain satisfactory images of the heart using transthoracic echocardiogram (heart triplex), you may need to undergo a transesophageal echocardiogram. It may also be necessary when a more detailed visualization and assessment of the heart valves and cavities is needed. The procedure is similar to gastroscopy.
Sometimes, especially in those involving coronary heart disease (and in particular coronary artery disease), symptoms can only occur during physical activity. The stress echo captures images of the heart before and during the infusion of a drug that causes its contractility to increase. This is the way to achieve ischemia of the heart muscle
The indication of exercise echo is similar to stress echo. The main indication for the test is the appearance of myocardial ischemia. In this case, images of the heart are taken before and after fatigue on a treadmill or bike.
- After performing a transesophageal ultrasound scan, you may experience nausea in your throat for a few hours. During the examination there is continuous monitoring of blood pressure and oxygenation, and immediate medical intervention is always possible if any complication arises.
- In the stress echo there is a risk of arrhythmias or rarely more serious heart complications. - Similar complications may occur during exercise echo.
- If it is necessary to perform a transesophageal echocardiogram you will be asked not to eat or drink water for 3 hours prior to examination. It will be administered locally to the pharynx anesthetic for easier passage of the transducer. There is also a possibility that a mild sedative may be given to relax the examined person and make the exam easier.
- In stress echo the increase in contractility and heart rate is achieved by drug administration. Before the test, there will be placed a venous catheter to inject the drug that will cause tachycardia. During the exam you may feel the heart beating faster and louder, which is to be expected. After the exam you will need to stay for a while until your doctor makes sure everything is OK.
-In the Exercise Echo the examined person is initially subjected to a simple transthoracic study (heart triplex). You will then undergo a stress test either on a treadmill or on a bicycle, under continuous ECG monitoring. At the peak of the exercise you will be asked to return to the bed and lie down in a left lateral position. Your doctor will try within the first two minutes to record the function of your heart during stress. This will get useful information about possible ischemia or other disorders such as valvular diseases.
Dimensions of the heart: The triplex of the heart can estimate the dimensions of the heart, the thickness of the heart walls and the size of the heart cavities. Many diseases of the cardiovascular system, such as valve diseases, arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease, myocardial diseases. The echocardiogram can help in both the initial assessment of the heart condition and the monitoring of the efficacy of therapeutic interventions. Functionality of the heart: The echocardiogram can assess the force by which the heart drives the blood to the periphery. This can be measured by various methods, the most common being the ejection fraction measurement. It can also be assessed whether the walls of the heart are functioning normally or if they are hypokinetic.
Equally important is information about the functionality of the valves, confirming or excluding the presence of stenosis or insufficiency. Congenital abnormalities: The echocardiogram can also assess various congenital abnormalities in the walls, valves. Also various pathological communications between the heart cavities and various birth defects.