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What is Cardiac Ultrasound and How is it Used?

A cardiac ultrasound is a useful tool to evaluate the structure and function of the heart and associated vessels. Cardiac ultrasound provides an overview about heart pumping adequacy, structure of the heart, size of the heart cavities, proper functioning of the heart valves and structural defects of the heart. Additionally, it is possible to image blood circulation in the heart and it also allows diagnosing of homodynamic or circulatory heart disorders.

Also known as an echocardiogram, or echo, the cardiac ultrasound is a noninvasive, diagnostic test that uses high-frequency sound waves to provide an image of the heart's movement, valves, and chambers. A cardiac ultrasound is essentially the same as a pregnancy ultrasound, except instead of viewing a baby, the heart is examined.

There are several different types of cardiac ultrasound echocardiograms, the most common ones for diagnosing heart disease are:

  • M-mode - gives a one-dimensional view of the heart as if a line were drawn through it
  • 2-dimensional (2-D) or 3-D - show the length and width of the structures in the heart
  • Doppler - measures blood flow through the heart and blood vessels.
There are many reasons that a physician may request that a patient have a cardiac ultrasound. Physicians use it to evaluate the heart’s performance as well as to look for irregularities in the structures of the heart, including the heart chambers and valves. An echo may sometimes also be used to look for the cause of a murmur, to check the size of the heart chambers, to check for fluid around the heart, or to inspect the pumping capability of the heart if a patient has shortness of breath or has complained of certain symptoms during any type of exertion.

To perform the test, the cardiologist or sonographer uses a special type of cardicac ultrasound machine and probe to perform an ultrasound of the heart. This is usually done with the probe on the chest, known as a Trans-Thoracic Echocardiogram or TTE.

Occasionally it is essential to get the probe even closer to the heart and this is achieved by a Trans-Oesophageal Echocardiogram or “TOE” and in this case, the probe has to be swallowed and heavy sedation or a general anesthetic is often necessary to make this type of cardiac ultrasound endurable and the patient as comfortable as possible.

MedWOW, the international and multilingual medical equipment marketplace, features an impressive collection of new and used cardiac ultrasound equipment, as well as thousands of cardiac ultrasound parts and accessories from imaging inventories all over the world. MedWOW also offers a large selection of support services, including escrow, professional purchasing services, leasing and financing directory and other services for those seeking to purchase cardiac ultrasound equipment safely and easily – MedWOW!

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