Imagine ‘looking’ at the heart or looking ‘into’ the heart of a living person! Further, imagine looking at the valves and moving walls of the heart. This is what this wonderful, yet non-invasive investigation does.
Also, just as we can feel the wind blowing into our face or on our back, the cardiologist can make out whether the blood is flowing towards the echo probe or away from it. All this without any puncture or surgery!
This is made possible by sending sound waves which we cannot ‘hear’ (called ultrasound waves) into the chest via a hand held probe in contact with the chest wall. A special jelly is applied on the probe to facilitate transmission of signals and to avoid friction. Depending on what structure they encounter, these sound waves are reflected as our voice is reflected in a valley or an old monument. Hence it is called ‘Echocardiography’ or ‘Echo’, for short. These reflections can be seen on a monitor and recorded on a videocassette or a CD-ROM. Echocardiography is also called sonography of the Heart.
Echocardiography is a more precise investigation of the heart as completed to an x-Ray or ECG.
There are different types of Echo tests.