A cardiac echo machine has the job of monitoring a complex and fast-paced organ within the human body known as the heart. With both the regular doppler ultrasound device and the color Doppler machine, as well as other advancements with the sonography machine, methods are constantly being made to improve the imaging and scanning of this multiplexed and high functioning organ.

Also known as an echocardiogram, a cardiac ultrasound may be performed for the following reasons:

  • Assessing the overall functions of the heart
  • Finding any (potential) presence of heart disease
  • Following the progress of any heart disease over time
  • Evaluating the overall effectiveness of any surgeries or treatments

Analyzing the heart requires nothing less than superior technology. Because it plays a vital role in detecting and resolving heart disease and other potential cardiac issues, it is crucial to have a detailed digital representation everything that moves in the heart. Your typical sonography machine is less than likely to do the trick, as it often requires a Doppler ultrasound device. This is because it is able to represent blood flow within the body, whereas a regular ultrasound unit just produces images through sound waves. In order to properly analyze specific movements and determine what is happening in each patient's’ cardiac system, several different types of echocardiograms can be performed.

Transthoracic echocardiogram: Acting as the standard cardiac echo machine, this is a painless test which reflects the procedure similar to that of an X-Ray (minus the radiation); it is the same technology used to evaluate a baby’s health prior to being born, so you know it’s harmless. Like most well-known ultrasound procedures, this is done by placing the probe on the patient’s chest, which transfers high-frequency sound waves. These sound waves then “bounce off” the structure of the organ and produces images onto the ultrasound machine monitor, as well as sounds that can be used to detect any potential heart damage and/or disease.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): This test requires a more invasive approach with the patient, as the transducer must be inserted down the individual’s throat into the esophagus. Since the esophagus’ location is near the heart, clearer images of the organ’s structure can be produced without interfering with the lungs and chest.

Stress echocardiogram: This test is performed before and after exercise training methods like running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike. The test is used to examine how the heart’s walls and pumping actions perform under stress and can reveal a lack of blood flow in the body that other cardiac echo tests may not reveal otherwise.

Dobutamine Stress echocardiogram: Another form of stress echocardiogram, the organ’s stress is obtained through a drug that tricks it into thinking that it’s exercising, rather than physically exercising it. This test is used to evaluate the performance of the heart’s walls and pumping actions under stress when you can’t physically exercise. It can also determine a patient’s likelihood of having coronary artery disease and can evaluate how effective the patient's cardiac treatment plan is.

Intravascular ultrasound: Performed during a coronary angiogram, this procedure requires the transducer to be threaded into the blood vessels surrounding the heart via a catheter into the groin. Used to provide detail about blockage inside blood vessels, this test provides insight into making sure everything is being circulated correctly.

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