There are some gadgets you really can't live without. At HeartLink, we arm our doctors with the best life-saving equipment in the business. Whether it's the coronary stents we use for PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention) or our exceptional echocardiograms, you won't find more advanced cardiac technology anywhere in Collin County.
An echocardiogram is a test in which ultrasound is used to examine the heart. In addition to providing single-dimension images that allow accurate measurement of the heart chambers, the echocardiogram also offers two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) echo, capable of displaying a cross-sectional "slice" of the beating heart, including the chambers, valves and the major blood vessels.
An echocardiogram can be obtained in a physician's office or in the hospital. For a resting echocardiogram, sticky patches or electrodes are attached to the chest and shoulders and connected to electrodes or wires. These help to record the electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) during the echocardiography test. The EKG helps in the timing of various cardiac events (such as the filling and emptying of chambers).
A colorless gel is then applied to the chest, and the echo transducer is placed on top of it. The echo technologist makes recordings from different parts of the chest to obtain several views of the heart. You may be asked to move from your back and to the side. Instructions may also be given for you to breathe slowly or to hold your breath. This helps in obtaining higher-quality pictures. The images are constantly viewed on the monitor. They are also recorded on photographic paper and on videotape. The tape offers a permanent record of the examination and is reviewed by the physician prior to completion of the final report.
Advantage of this Method
Echocardiography is useful in the diagnosis of fluid in the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart). It also determines when the problem is severe and potentially life-threatening. Other diagnoses made by Doppler or echocardiography include congenital heart diseases, blood clots or tumors within the heart, active infection of the heart valves, abnormal elevation of pressure within the lungs, etc.
This method is also extremely safe. There are no known risks from the clinical use of ultrasound during this type of testing.