Non-Invasive Cardiovascular Testing | Invasive Cardiac Procedures
Another common noninvasive testing procedure is an echocardiogram or “echo.” An Echocardiogram is an ultrasound assessment of the heart: it uses sound waves to create a true live image of the heart. From these detailed pictures, we can assess the valves, chambers, and pumping ability of your heart muscle.
Echocardiograms are completely noninvasive, painless, and require no preparation. You will lie down and breathe normally while electrode patches attached to your chest and a sonographer (technician) will lightly press an imaging probe (like a camera) along your chest wall in various spots to gather the images. There may be requests to lay in different positions, as well as alter your breathing patterns momentarily. It takes about 20-3 minutes to complete an Echocardiogram.
Certain conditions like valvular heart issues (like Mitral Regurgitation or Aortic Stenosis), patients with atrial fibrillation undergoing electrical cardioversion may be referred to have a TransEsophageal Echocardiogram – or TEE. A TEE is a minimally invasive procedure done in the hospital with the assistance of anesthesia to induce sleep for a patient as an ultrasound camera is gently passed in the mouth, down the esophagus (food pipe). In the middle of the chest, the esophagus is right behind the heart and provides a location from which very clear and accurate pictures of certain parts of the heart are best visualized. The procedure takes 10-20 minutes to perform, and patients are sent home the same day shortly after completion. All of the cardiologists at SPCVA perform TEE studies.
Cardiologists go through extensive training to learn to interpret the anatomy and complex physiology in order to make accurate diagnoses for our patients. As such, there will be times when an ECHO has been done elsewhere, and we will request your help to get copies of the original actual images (often on a CD) so that we can see the heart ourselves and make our own interpretation, rather than rely on report generated by someone we don’t know, who is actually not taking care of you.
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