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Using echocardiography in the diagnosis
Heart Disease
23 April 2024

Sound energy is a vibratory disturbance that moves forward in a wave through a substrate. Sound can travel well in air, solid and liquid mediums. If we yell in a valley, we will hear our voice comes back (echo) in a period. This is similar as how the work of an ultrasound machine. Body tissue just like air or other substrate will absorb some ultrasound energy. The ultrasound machine sends sound waves to a body, and different body tissue reflects different amount of the wave back to the machine, then the computer can calculate and generate the images.


The vets can diagnose the disease by these datas. Why we called the sound waves “ultrasound” is because they can’t be heard by human ears.


Echocardiography can help us to see the structure of a heart and also the beating of the heart. It’s a non-invasive diagnostic tool and useful to know how the condition and function of the heart in a real time. In the same time, we can use echocardiogram to measure the heart and check the direction and velocity of blood flow in a vessel. The trans-thoracic echocardiography also can detect any effusion or fluid inside the chest or lung. Echocardiogram shows vets what kind of the heart disease and how severe it is. In addition, it provides a quantitative data to help us to decide if the patient needs treatment and is also helpful for a periodical monitoring.


Echocardiography is a crucial test in the diagnosis of the heart disease, but it’s not the only one. We can not preform echocardiography in some circumstances, for example, a patient with severe pulmonary edema caused by congestive heart failure. This will not allow the patient lie down and keep still for about 10 minutes. Therefore, echocardiography will not be a priority choice. Vets should try to stabilize the patient and make a temporary diagnosis and treatment plan relied on physical exam, auscultation, or chest x-ray. Performing echocardiography until the condition of the patient becomes more stable is much safer.


Echocardiography has its limitation. Because it is a two-dimensional viewing but the structure of a heart is in a three-dimensional world. Alternatively, we may miss something wrong in a particular view sometimes. In addition, finding a problem of the heart should rely on the result of different tests, like auscultation, physical examination, x-ray, ECG, and echocardiogram … etc.


Fasting is not necessary for the animals who will need echocardiography except they need to be sedated as the excitement or aggression.


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