What is cardiac ultrasound ?
Cardiac ultrasound is an ultrasound of the heart. This technique is based on the use of ultrasound. It makes it possible to obtain images of the heart valves (aortic, mitral, tricuspid), to assess the degree of heart failure, i.e. to measure the force of the contraction of the walls of the heart, or to study congenital heart defects or those that appear later in life.
Even if the coronary morphology cannot be studied by echocardiography, it is possible to appreciate the repercussions on the heart muscle of a myocardial infarction by visualizing an area which no longer contracts.
Ultrasound can also look for pericardial effusion or thickening of the pericardium which is the envelope of the heart.
In an indirect way, the echocardiography can make it possible to specify the repercussion on the heart of various affections: hypertension, hypothyroidism…
What is a cardiac ultrasound used for? ?
During a cardiac ultrasound, many measurements are made.
Anatomical measurements relate to the size and morphology of the various structures that make up the heart : ventricles, auricles, cardiac muscle, valves (valves ensuring tightness) and pericardium (envelope of the heart).
Functional analysis consists of observing how the heart muscle contracts, how the valves open and close and how the blood circulates, represented by colors. The use of the Doppler makes it possible to evaluate the flows and the pressures in your heart.
The coronary arteries are not visible in echocardiography but it is possible to assess the impact of a myocardial infarction on the heart muscle by visualizing an area that no longer contracts.
Cardiac ultrasound is therefore essential for the diagnosis and monitoring of any heart disease, in particular:
- diagnose and monitor diseases of the heart valves (heart murmur, valvular prostheses), of the heart muscle (myocardial infarction, dilated or hypertrophied heart) or of the pericardium (pericarditis) ;
- screen for cardiac complications of high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol ;
- look for the cause of cerebrovascular accidents (cerebral infarction or intracranial hematoma) ;
- monitor the cardiac tolerance of chemotherapy ;
- check the good health of your heart before surgery…
Our cardiologists perform transthoracic echocardiography at the Argentina Medical Center.
How is the exam going ?
During the cardiac ultrasound, you will be lying shirtless on an examination bed.
Three self-adhesive electrodes will be placed on your chest to record your heart rate and synchronize video recording to your heartbeat.
To improve image quality, you will be asked to turn to your left side for most of the exam.
The ultrasound probe will be covered with a gel, promoting the transmission of ultrasound, before being applied to various points on your chest. This is completely painless, you will not feel the passage of ultrasound. You may occasionally hear the Doppler sound punctuated by your heartbeat.
The exam lasts between 20 and 30 minutes.
What equipment is used at the Argentina Medical Center ?
For carrying out cardiac ultrasounds, the Argentine Medical Center has a latest generation ultrasound scanner, an EPIQ CVx from Philips Healthcare.
Its technology offers very good quality ultrasound images, thanks to excellent spatial and temporal resolution.
It also has recent semi-automatic core analysis software, the use of which is now recommended for its reliability and reproducibility. :
Dynamic Heart Model (3-dimensional heart analysis) ;
Auto-Strain (measurement of the deformation of the heart muscle).
A complete report of your cardiac ultrasound will be given to you at the end of the examination, including photos of your heart, the interpretation of the results and any recommendations for your treatment.
Since the echocardiography is a dynamic examination, you will also be given a DVD containing the videos of your heart, so that your doctor can view your entire examination.
Our ultrasound machine is
an EPIQ CVx (Philips Healthcare)