Heart Rhythm Community
Ultrasound or Echocardiogram, other?
About This Community:

This patient support community is for discussions relating to heart rhythm issues, arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat, implanted defibrillators, pacemakers, and tachycardia.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank Blank

Ultrasound or Echocardiogram, other?

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.  
5 Comments Post a Comment
Blank
1124887_tn?1313758491
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.

Blank
612551_tn?1247839157
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?
Blank
1124887_tn?1313758491
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.
Blank
612551_tn?1247839157
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.
Blank
1124887_tn?1313758491
You are not slow and you are not wasting my time :-)

You are right, an echo is another word for an ultrasound of the heart.
Blank
Post a Comment
To
Top Arrhythmias Answerers
1423357_tn?1373023915
Blank
tom_h
Central, MA
612551_tn?1247839157
Blank
Jerry_NJ
NJ
1807132_tn?1318747197
Blank
michellepetkus
Chicago, IL
257552_tn?1404606154
Blank
Artaud
Pittsburgh, PA
1124887_tn?1313758491
Blank
is_something_wrong
Oslo, Norway
995271_tn?1408549100
Blank
itdood
PA
MedHelp Health Answers
Recent Activity
1755089_tn?1376057155
Blank
drewlevas uploaded new photos
6 hrs ago
Avatar_f_tn
Blank
mkh9 commented on Londres70's status
13 hrs ago
1236893_tn?1408490528
Blank
USDA Approves New GE Corn and Soy, ...
Sep 19 by gymdandee
Heart Rhythm Community Resources
RSS Expert Activity
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
The 3 Essentials to Ending Emotiona...
Sep 18 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Control Emotional Eating with this ...
Sep 04 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Emotional Eating Control: How to St...
Aug 28 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
Top Arrhythmias Answerers
1423357_tn?1373023915
Blank
tom_h
Central, MA
612551_tn?1247839157
Blank
Jerry_NJ
NJ
1807132_tn?1318747197
Blank
michellepetkus
Chicago, IL
257552_tn?1404606154
Blank
Artaud
Pittsburgh, PA
1124887_tn?1313758491
Blank
is_something_wrong
Oslo, Norway
995271_tn?1408549100
Blank
itdood
PA