When is this exam indicated?
Can detect and measure:
- valve disease;
- size of the heart, its sides and chambers;
- blood flow;
- extraneous masses in the ventricles;
- pressures in the chambers;
- movement of the cardiac walls;
- ejection fraction (EF), an index representing the percentage of blood pumped by the heart after each contraction. The normal EF value is approximately 65%. A decrease in the values indicates a worsening of the heart's performance, a difficulty in pumping blood and meeting the demands of the organs. In case of heart failure, in which the total contractile capacity of the heart is deteriorated, EF reaches the lowest levels.
How is it performed?
It is based on the emission of ultrasound ( extremely high frequency sounds) generated by a probe placed on the chest, directed towards the heart, and on the reception of waves reflected by the walls of the heart itself. The duration of the examination depends on the required information and varies up to a maximum of 45 minutes.
Unlike other tests, such as X-rays and computer tomography (CT), no radiation is used during the echocardiogram. No associated risks.