If your cardiologist suspects that you have a heart problem, then testing will be scheduled to help the doctor visualize the issue. This occurs during something called an echocardiogram. And, there are a few different types of echos that can be performed to get the best possible image. 

Internal Imagery

Your cardiologist will sometimes need to get an up-close and highly detailed image of the heart from the inside. This is something that must happen if your valves need to be inspected or if the professional must evaluate artificial valves to see if they are still in good condition. Sometimes, close up inspections are needed to look at growths. For example, vegetations are common on artificial valves. Once noted, tools can be inserted to take a sample of the growth for analysis. 

This sort of close up evaluation occurs during an internal type of echocardiogram called an intracardiac echocardiogram or an ICE. During the test, a catheter is placed inside one of the arteries in your leg or neck. A small camera is inserted into the catheter where it is moved through the body and up into the heart. Once in the heart, the camera records a video and some still images are taken as well. The same catheter may be used at this time to insert a grabbing tool for sampling. 

The entire imaging test is a quick one, but it does require wakeful sedation and aftercare, so you will need to spend about one day in the hospital.

3-D Echo

The vast majority of echocardiograms, except for the ICE, produce 2-D imagery. While this can give a general snapshot of the internal heart anatomy, it may not be enough to identify smaller issues such as openings in the heart valves, valve tears, and tumor growths. When more precise images are needed, especially in the case where measurements must be made, a 3-D echo should be completed as well.

The 3-D echocardiogram uses flat images from a number of different angles to build up a 3-D image of the heart. This is done with computer technology, so a special machine is needed during the test. The good news is that the test is completed much like a traditional, non-invasive echo. So, you do not have to make any special arrangements and the test will be completed within a fairly short timeframe.

If you want to know more about echocardiograms and the different types of tests, reach out to a company like Alpert Zales & Castro Pediatric Cardiology.