My cardiologist has prescribed echocardiogram testing over the years, I'll guess I have had five. I have also had two heart catheter examinations to look for blockage in the first case and to further diagnose a leaky mitral valve in the second. The valve problem was detected by an echocardiogram.
I have never been examined by Ultrasound, which I see frequently mentioned in posts on this community. Is this something that is similar to the echocardiogram? Where the same which is "best"? If different should I ask my cardiologist about the absence of any use of this tool in my heart treatment - which is ongoing for AFib.
An echocardiogram or echocardiography is an ultrasound of the heart.
Different methods are used, from standard imaging where the heart is seen in grey and black, to the doppler method, where blood streams are traced. Usually the doctors are following a standard procedure, where they first use so-called M-mode to examine pumping force of the heart and wall thickness. You can picture this as one-dimensional ultrasound where the images are continuously placed after each other, sort of like a flip book. Afterwards, the heart as a whole is examined in 2-d from different angles, and finally your valve function and blood streams are examined with doppler.
The cardiologist will also possibly examine your aorta and carotid arteries to rule out plaque buildups or dilations.
A radiologist can examine all other organs except the heart with ultrasound, and a cardiologist can only examine the heart. I have no idea why radiologists can't perform echocardiography, but they can't.
Thanks, I appreciate the description of the echo... I do recall all the tests you mention are included. It provides size of left atrium diameter, ef and other measurements I track myself.
Separate from what the radiologist can't, I read some people to report that ultrasound was used to examine their heart - there is one such post this morning (USA East Coast time) on PVC.
In my experience the doctor after a hands-on examination uses the EKG. The next step in my experience was a stress test, which was followed by a nuclear stress test (for which the radiologist recommended a catheter examination, the cardiologist didn't consider it necessary). In the USA thr radiologist for nuclear stress test does diagnose/recommend.
I had all the above more than once before an Echo exam was done. The only invasive test being the catheter.
Still don't understand, does an ultrasound provide new or better information on the physical properties of the heart?
Which test is used depends on what is wrong (or suspected to be wrong) with the heart. The first step in cardiac evaluation is an EKG and listening for murmurs. This is usually done by GPs.
For diagnosing coronary artery disease, the next step is a stress test, then a nuclear stress test, then catheter examination (angiography). For diagnosing arrhythmias, the next step is either Holter monitoring (if the arrhythmia is happening at random times) and further event monitor if Holter test didn't capture the arrhythmia. For exercise-induced arrhythmias stress testing is done, and if unsuccessful or in case of serious arrhythmias, electrophysiology study / ablation (to treat).
An echo (or an ultrasound, which is the same) is the second line examination after listening to the heart. Or, if an EKG is abnormal, to see if the heart has suffered damage from previous heart attacks, hypertrophy caused by high blood pressure, dilation from chronic tachycardia, myocarditis or diabetes, or valve function in the setting of heart murmurs or unexplained shortness of breath (or weird blood pressure results like 160/40 which can be caused by a leaky aortic valve).
So, when diagnosing a heart problem, the doctors may investigate the pipes, the walls, the power supply or the electrical system in the "building". An ultrasound (echo) is the next step after GP visit to investigate walls and pipes. A normal echo does not rule out narrowed coronary arteries or arrhythmias.
Thanks again, but being a slow (slowing more with age) learner I now understand that "ultrasound" can be used to define the method (physical action) that an Echo uses, and as such when one says: "I had an Ultrasound", it is meaningless unless they say of what. Where I use the word Echocardiogram stand-alone, it is not ambiguous, it applies only to the heart.
May I conclude that when one is referring to heart related tests and they say they had an Ultrasound I can take it to be the same as an Echo...? Here I jump to a context interpretation of what was typed.
I hope I am not wasting too much of your time, better spend replying to questions from others. I frequently read your replies to learn - and usually end up forgetting the finer details of your good inputs.
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