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Diagnostic Tests 2023

Echocardiogram: what é, what it is for and how é done

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Echocardiogram: what é, what it is for and how é done
Echocardiogram: what é, what it is for and how é done

The echocardiogram is a simple exam that serves to evaluate, in real time, some characteristics of the heart, such as size, shape of the valves, muscle thickness and the heart's ability to function, in addition to blood flow. This exam also allows you to see the state of the great vessels of the heart, pulmonary artery and aorta at the time the exam is being performed.

This exam is also called echocardiography or ultrasound of the heart, and has several types, such as one-dimensional, two-dimensional and Doppler, which are requested by the doctor according to what you want to evaluate.


How the echocardiogram is performed

Echocardiography is a simple procedure that requires no preparation, with the exception of transesophageal echocardiography, in which it is recommended that the person does not eat for about 3 hours before the exam.

This exam is usually done in the cardiologist's office or an imaging clinic, and takes 15 to 20 minutes. It is enough for the person to lie on the stretcher, belly up or on the left side, and remove or lift the shirt. Next, the doctor applies a little gel to the region of the chest where the heart is located and slides the ultrasound equipment that generates images into a computer, from several different angles.

During the examination, the doctor may ask the person to change their position or to perform specific breathing movements in order to obtain a more accurate result. After the echocardiogram, the person can return to their normal routine.

Types of echocardiogram

According to the purpose of the exam, different echocardiograms can be performed, the main ones being:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram: is the most commonly performed test, in which the equipment is placed in the thoracic region.;
  • Fetal echocardiogram: performed during pregnancy to evaluate the baby's heart and identify diseases;
  • Doppler echocardiogram: especially indicated to assess blood flow through the heart, especially useful in valvular heart disease;
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram: is indicated to also evaluate the esophageal region for diseases.

This exam can also be performed in a one-dimensional or two-dimensional way, which means that the generated images evaluate 2 different angles at the same time, and in a three-dimensional way, which evaluates 3 dimensions at the same time, being more modern and credible.

What is it for

Echocardiography is an exam used to evaluate the functioning of the heart of people with or without cardiac symptoms, or who have chronic cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension or diabetes. The main indications for performing this exam are:

  • Analysis of cardiac function;
  • Analysis of the size and thickness of the heart walls;
  • Valve structure assessment, valve malformations and blood flow visualization;
  • Calculation of cardiac output, which is the amount of blood pumped per minute;
  • Changes in the membrane that covers the heart;
  • Investigate the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath, excessive tiredness;
  • Diseases such as heart murmur, heart thrombi, aneurysm, pulmonary thromboembolism, esophageal diseases;
  • Investigate masses and tumors in the heart.

There is no contraindication for carrying out this exam, which can be done even in babies and children, and its performance is also indicated by amateur and professional athletes and people who are sedentary who will start to practice physical activity.

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