WELCOME to the ATRIAL SEPTAL DEFECT COMMUNITY: This Patient-To-Patient Community is for discussions relating to Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) which is a hole in the part of the septum that separates the atria (the upper chambers of the heart). This hole allows oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium to flow into the right atrium instead of flowing into the left ventricle as it should. This means that oxygen-rich blood gets pumped back to the lungs, where it has just been, instead of going to the body.
There are several different types of echocardiography-all use sound waves to create images your heart. This is the same technology that allows doctors to see an unborn baby inside a pregnant mother. Unlike x rays and some other tests, echocardiography doesn't involve radiation.
Transthoracic (tranz-thor-AS-ik) echocardiography is the most common type of echocardiogram test. It's painless and noninvasive. "Noninvasive" means that no surgery is done and no instruments are inserted into your body.
This type of echocardiography involves placing a device called a transducer on your chest that sends special sound waves, called ultrasound, through your chest wall to your heart. Ultrasound waves can't be heard by the human ear. As the ultrasound waves bounce off the structures of your heart, a computer in the echocardiography machine converts them into pictures on a screen.
This is an echocardiography test that's done as part of a cardiac stress test. During a cardiac stress test, you exercise or take medicine (given by your doctor) to make your heart pump harder and beat faster. Some heart problems, such as coronary artery disease, are easier to diagnose when the heart is beating fast and pumping hard.
With standard transthoracic echocardiography, it can be difficult to see the aorta and certain other parts of your heart. If your doctor needs a better look at these areas, he or she may recommend transesophageal (tranz-ih-sof-uh-JEE-ul) echocardiography.
In this test, the transducer is attached to the end of a flexible tube that's guided down your throat and into your esophagus (the tube leading from your mouth to your stomach) to get a more detailed image of your heart.
This type of echocardiography is used to look at an unborn baby's heart. A doctor may recommend this test to check the baby for heart problems. Fetal echocardiography is commonly performed during pregnancy at about 18 to 22 weeks.
Author/Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]
Retrieved: June 2008