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Heart echocardiography - also known as transthoracic, transesophageal or Doppler echocardiography - is a method of examining the heart that uses the ultrasound echo (USG) phenomenon. Echocardiography is a non-invasive test that allows you to assess the structure and operation of heart valves, measure the size and function of the heart chambers, and diagnose heart defects. What is echocardiography? What are the indications for the test? How to prepare for it?

Echocardiography( heart echo ) is a non-invasive method of examining the heart using the ultrasound echo (ultrasound) phenomenon. The test, regardless of its type, allows to assess the anatomical structures of the heart, contractility of the heart muscle, the structure and function of the intracardiac valves, as well as blood flow within the atria and heart chambers, as well as large blood vessels (aorta, veins, artery and pulmonary veins). The echo makes it easier to detect a past infarction, the presence of a blood clot, a heart tumor, fluid in the pericardium (i.e. in the bag with the heart).

Echocardiographic examination is, next to the ECG, the most important examination in the work of a cardiologist and often a cardiac surgeon. They can be repeated many times and most importantly, they have no side effects.

The most common type of echocardiography performed istransthoracic echocardiography (TTE). In case of doubt, atransesophageal echocardiography (TEE) may be ordered after performing a transthoracic examination. A new technique of echocardiography used in the diagnosis of heart diseases is tissueDoppler echocardiography .

Echocardiography (heart echo) - indications for the test

The indication for examining the heart echo are serious diseases, such as:

  • ischemic heart disease (coronary artery disease),
  • myocardial infarction,
  • myocarditis,
  • endocarditis,
  • thromboembolism and others.

The most commonly used examination is performed through the thorax (the so-called transthoracic). The indication for its conduct is ischemic disease and its complications in the form of ischemia or myocardial infarction.

The test allows you to assess the advancement of the disease and monitor its progress and treatment effects. This also applies to arterial hypertension, one of the most common andinsidious civilization diseases.

The echo of the heartis an invaluable test in the diagnosis of both congenital and acquired heart defects, postoperative evaluation of implanted valves, by-passes and other procedures.

The echo of the heartalso makes it easier to identify the cause:

  • heart murmurs,
  • arrhythmias
  • or unexplained chest pains.

It is an irreplaceable study in observation:

  • ischemic heart failure,
  • inflammatory failure,
  • metabolic failure
  • and in other diseases of the heart muscle,
  • and also in diseases of the pericardium or endocardium.

It also allows the assessment of abnormalities in the structure or function of large arterial or venous vessels.

Another indication for a heart echo is the suspicion of pulmonary arterial hypertension. The test allows for the diagnosis of congenital heart defects as the cause of pulmonary hypertension and the assessment of the prognosis.

Transesophagealecho of the heartis performed in people in whom the transthoracic image is not good enough and unambiguous and in the case of suspicion of aortic dissection, presence of a thrombus in the heart cavities, endocarditis and valve prostheses are not functioning properly.

Echocardiography (echo of the heart) - how to prepare?

You don't need to prepare yourself for transthoracic echocardiography.

However, a preliminary cardiological examination, including ECG and chest X-ray, should be previously performed. The results of these tests should be provided to the doctor performing echocardiography.

In turn, you should report for transesophageal echocardiography on an empty stomach.

Echocardiography (heart echo) - price

As part of the National He alth Fund, the test is performed on the request (referral) of a cardiologist. For those privately performed, you have to pay from 130 to 220 PLN.

The description of the examination together with photos may be provided to the patient in writing, on a floppy disk or other data carrier. It all depends on the possibilities of the laboratory where the test is performed.

Echocardiography (heart echo) - the course of the examination

Transthoracic echocardiography

The patient will be asked to undress from the waist up and lie down on the couch on his back. The doctor covers the skin with a special gel and then places the head of the apparatus on the body. The head sends sound waves and absorbs the returning echo. Thanks to this, possible changes in the structure of the heart and abnormalities in its work are visible on the monitor.

Echocardiography can also be done with contrast (centerthat is injected into a patient's vein during echocardiography. Contrast helps to get a better picture of the heart.

Transesophageal echocardiography

A complement to the transthoracic examination isechocardiographytransesophageal. In this case, the patient is administered local anesthesia. Then you have to fast. The doctor gives a sedative (children sometimes use general anesthesia).

Then the doctor introduces through the esophagus, at the level of the heart, a special type of probe with a smaller diameter (approx. 1 cm). Due to the closeness of the heart, the structures of the heart can be visualized more precisely.

Tissue Doppler Echocardiography

Patients in whom the two-dimensional examination and the commonly used grayscale do not give fully unambiguous images, tissue Doppler echocardiography can be performed.

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List of accredited offices where echocardiography can be performed

The Polish Society of Cardiology has created a list of accredited offices where echocardiography can be performed. Accreditation may be granted to offices in which people with the expected level of practical skills work. This is very important as the value of the test depends to a large extent on the skill of the specialist.

The list of accredited offices includes:

  • Echocardiography Laboratory, Cardiology Clinic, University Specialist Hospital, 24A Skłodowskiej-Curie Street, Białystok
  • Echocardiography Laboratory, Department of Electrocardiology and Heart Failure, Medical University of Silesia, Upper Silesian Medical Center, 45/47 Ziołowa Street, Katowice
  • Echocardiography Laboratory of the 1st Department of Cardiology, Interventional Electrocardiology and Hypertension and 2nd Department of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Interventions, Jagiellonian University Medical College, ul. Kopernika 17, Krakow
  • Laboratory of Echocardiography, Department of Cardioangiology, Department of Pulmonary Circulation of Thromboembolic Diseases, CMKP, European He alth Center, ul. Borowa 16/18, Otwock
  • Echocardiography Laboratory, 1st Department of Cardiology, Medical University of Warsaw, Clinical Hospital of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Długa 1/2, Poznań
  • Laboratory of Non-Invasive Diagnostics of Heart and Vascular Diseases, J. Strus' Military Specialist Hospital, 3 Szwajcarska Street, Poznań
  • Laboratory of Echocardiography, IDepartment and Clinic of Cardiology, Medical University of Warsaw, Central Clinical Hospital, ul. Banacha 1a, Warsaw
  • Echocardiography Laboratory, Department of Internal Diseases and Cardiology, Medical University of Warsaw, Lindeya 4, Warsaw
  • Clinical Echocardiography Laboratory, Department of Congenital Heart Defects, Institute of Cardiology, Alpejska 42, Warsaw
  • Echocardiography Laboratory, Department of Invasive Cardiology of the Central Teaching Hospital of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, 137 Wołoska St., Warsaw
  • Echocardiography Laboratory, Department of Cardiology and Internal Medicine, Military Institute of Medicine, 128 Szaserów St., Warsaw
  • Echocardiography Laboratory, Center for Heart Diseases, 4th Military Clinical Hospital, 5 Weigla St., Wrocław
  • Adult Echocardiography Laboratory, Silesian Center for Heart Diseases, Szpitalna 2 Street, Zabrze

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