A cardiac echo, better known as an echocardiogram, is a non-invasive ultrasound imaging technique that allows your doctor to evaluate the size, shape, and function of the heart muscle. Ultrasound technology uses high-frequency energy through sound waves to create a blueprint of the heart muscle, valves, and inner and outer linings, as well showing the blood flow. Based on your initial cardiac consultation with Dr. Ginkel, he may recommend a cardiac echo for your case, in order to diagnose possible conditions, including:
- Improper opening and closing of the heart valves
- Weakened heart muscle
- Abnormal size of the chambers of your heart
- Congenital heart defects, such as holes between the chambers of your heart
How We Perform the Cardiac Echo
When you come in for a cardiac echo with Dr. Ginkel, a sonographer will perform the test, while Dr. Ginkel will interpret the results. You will be asked to disrobe above the waist, but will be provided with a dressing gown for comfort. Electrodes are then placed on your chest to allow synchronizing of the echo images to your heartbeat. The room will be quite dark during the exam, since the device used to perform the cardiac ultrasound requires low lighting to display the image accurately.
Once you’re fitted with the electrodes, the tech will layer an ultrasound gel on your chest and ask you to lay on your side for the best possible images. They will move the imaging probe over your chest and press down gently to focus on specific areas. On the screen, you will see a black and white picture of your heart as it contracts and relaxes in your chest. Your cardiac echo will take no more than 30 minutes to complete, and results will vary according to the area of focus.
The two types of cardiac echo performed at Midcoast Cardiovascular Associates are:
- Resting echo – Images are obtained while the patient is at rest as described above.
- Stress echo – Images are obtained both before and immediately after the patient’s stress test
While these tests can offer a clear view of your heart’s performance and allow Dr. Ginkel to provide proactive treatments, they can also tell us if past surgical procedures are still functioning normally. Based on the pictures taken and performance of your heart, additional surgeries and interventions may be recommended. Dr. Ginkel will discuss the results of the cardiac echo with you in detail at your appointment following the exam. Many patients wonder if this test is safe, and we want you to know that cardiac echoes are very safe – this procedure does not require strenuous activity, nor does it cause any harm or discomfort.
Call Midcoast Cardiovascular Associates to schedule your cardiac echo and preliminary appointment today at 805-354-0112.