What is Transthoracic Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram (Heart Echo Scan) is a type of cardiac test that allows a Cardiologist or another physician to assess the structure and function of a person’s heart, the valves and the nearby blood vessels. An echocardiogram enables a heart doctor to assess the heart while it is contracting and moving blood around the body. A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is the most commonly used echocardiogram. It is a type of ultrasound scan that utilises high-frequency soundwaves and echoes. A physician, usually a cardiologist or cardio sonographer, will place a transducer, (a type of probe) on your chest. The probe is moved around the chest and sends sound waves into the chest. These sound waves then reflect off different parts of the heart and the surrounding areas. The sound waves will then be converted into images of your heart and connected blood vessels. These images can be checked by your private heart doctor for signs of abnormality, damage, infection, or a build-up of fluid. A transthoracic echocardiogram enables your doctor to examine all of the heart’s chambers at one time. What Happens During a Transthoracic Echocardiogram Test? You may be referred to a private cardiologist for a transthoracic echocardiogram by your primary physician, or you can book an echocardiogram test yourself. During the TTE, ultrasound gel will be applied to the left side of your chest and a probe will be moved slowly over your chest to provide different views of the heart. You may be given specific instructions, such as moving into certain positions or following a specific breathing pattern. This allows the physician to get a better view of the heart or a more thorough understanding of how your heart is functioning. The probe detects the echoes from the sound waves and sends the images to a video monitor. Your private cardiologist will then review the images and evaluate the structure and function of your heart. A transthoracic echocardiogram test is minimally invasive. This means that no instruments or medical equipment are inserted into your body or through the skin, and therefore you should experience no pain or side effects. What Can a Transthoracic Echocardiogram Detect? Transthoracic echocardiograms are one of the most important cardiac tests. They are used to detect a variety of heart conditions, diseases and infections and can assess how well your heart is functioning, any structural abnormalities and the blood flow through your heart’s chambers and valves. They give very useful information regarding the heart from a structural, anatomical and functional point of view. Echo Heart Scans are mainly done to assess any problem with the dilatation of the chambers of the heart, which can also become thicker, weaker, stiffer, dilated or any issue with the valves, which can become narrower and also have leakage. They can also assess the cause of symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or dizziness.
Some of the main indication of a transthoracic echocardiogram include:
· To assess the overall pumping function of the heart.
· To detect any structural heart diseases, such as congenital heart disease and valvular heart disease.
· To detect underlying heart diseases, such as coronary heart disease.
· To detect heart inflammations, such as pericarditisor myocarditis·
To detect and diagnose cardiac tumours.
· To detect and investigate heart failure.
· To detect issues with the valves, which can infected, obstructed or develop a leakage
· To assess any damage to the heart muscles, for example, following a heart attack.
· To assess any changes in the size of the heart.
· To detect heart defects, including those that have been present since birth and those that manifest in later life.