We are an accredited ICAEL Laboratory
Your physician has ordered a test called an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound (sonogram) of your heart. It will show how well your heart muscle is working, if it is enlarged or thickened, if any of the valves are leaking or have calcium build up and if there is fluid around the heart. This test is not able to evaluate whether you have 'blocked arteries'. It is not in any way invasive - it is identical to the test done on pregnant women to check the fetus in the womb. There is no preparation for the test. You should wear a two-piece out-fit as you will have to undress from the waist up. You may eat and take all your medications.
The echocardiogram will be performed in our office by a technician and takes about 30 minutes. A transducer coated with cool gel will be moved over your chest; this device creates sound waves that make images of your heart. The images are digitally recorded and reviewed by the cardiologist and the results are then faxed to your doctor who will advise you of the results, diagnosis, and treatment.
A small percentage of patients have a 'poor acoustic window'. This means that the ultrasound beams cannot reach the heart due to obesity, lung disease, chest deformity or when the heart is deep in the chest covered by lung tissue. In these instances, the FDA has approved the use of 'contrast' to highlight the heart. The contrast is micro-bubbles (small microscopic bubbles) injected intravenously and filling the heart cavity (ventricle). These bubbles have no chemicals or dye that can cause eye, liver, kidney or any other kind of damage. If you have a known 'hole in the heart' (PFO / VSD) please inform the technician.
Possible (very rare) side effects are: headache, nausea, flushing, chills, dizziness, back pain and chest pain. These symptoms only last a few minutes.
In order to receive this contrast, an IV may be established through which the micro-bubbles are injected. If you would rather not be injected with the micro-bubbles, we will do the study without the contrast, however, the quality of the picture and information may be limited.