Cardiac ultrasound or echocardiography is a method of research, which reveals the presence of some structural anomalies or changes in the heart that occur in various diseases or malformations.
Echocardiography is widely used in the diagnosis of malformations of the heart in children, diseases of the heart muscle (myocardium), diseases of the heart valves, heart bags (pericardium), major blood vessels (aorta and pulmonary trunk), etc.
Why appoint an ultrasound of the heart
Ultrasound of the heart is an affordable and simple method of study, which reveals some heart disease before the onset of their symptoms.
Echocardiography usually shown to people with complaints of shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, loss of consciousness, feeling of palpitations or “interruption” of the heart, pain in the heart, etc.
The doctor prescribes echocardiography in the detection of a heart murmur, suspected of the disease, leading to heart disease (rheumatism, etc.), for high blood pressure, the presence of ECG changes (for example, signs of myocardial hypertrophy), chronic lung diseases, etc. ultrasound of the heart children indicated for suspected congenital malformation of the heart.
Most modern devices combine classic heart ultrasound with Doppler method, allowing to see the direction of movement of the blood in the chambers of the heart (which is very important to determine the performance of the heart, as well as for the detection of valvular diseases of the heart).
Preparation for ultrasound of the heart (echocardiography)
Ultrasound of the heart does not require any special preparation and does not cause pain during examination.
What diseases can be detected by ultrasound examination of the heart
When ultrasound of the heart pay attention to the size of the heart chambers, the thickness of their walls, the shape and the work heart valves, on the motion of the myocardium (heart muscle), etc. Changes of each option indicates the various diseases of the heart:
Congenital heart defects in children
Congenital heart disease is a group of defects in the structure of the heart, which occur in utero as a result of the impact of adverse factors on the developing fetus.
Most often meet the following birth defects:
Patent ductus arteriosus is the duct that connects the pulmonary artery and the aorta, which operates during intrauterine growth of the fetus, but normally closes soon after birth (usually 2-8 weeks of life). Patent ductus arteriosus in children may does not occur, or are lagging behind in child development, bluish discoloration of the skin (especially the lower half of the body) while crying, frequent pneumonia. On ultrasound of the heart in children with patent ductus arteriosus there is a thickening (hypertrophy) of the wall of the left atrium and ventricle, using Doppler sonography detects a discharge of blood from the aorta into the pulmonary artery.
Ventricular septal Defect is the hole in the septum between the right and left ventricle, through which blood from the left ventricle where the blood pressure is high) enters the right ventricle where the blood pressure is much lower).
The main symptoms of ventricular septal defect are: the backlog of child development, frequent pneumonia.
On echocardiography in children with ventricular septal defect noted the expansion of the cavities of the heart, thickening of its walls (cardiac hypertrophy); Doppler ultrasound is determined by the discharge of blood from the left ventricle to the right.
Atrial septal Defect is the presence of the hole in the septum between the Atria. On ultrasound of the heart with this defect, as a rule, there is thickening of the walls of the Atria, and in some cases can be seen the hole in the septum.
Mitral valve disease
Mitral valve Stenosisand is a narrowing of the opening through which blood flows from the left atrium into the left ventricle during relaxation of the heart (diastole). The main symptoms of mitral stenosis are: dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness, dry cough, heart attacks, chest pain. Stenosis of the mitral valve on echocardiography, it is determined thickening of the valves, thickening of the walls of the left atrium and the right ventricle of the heart (left ventricular hypertrophy), abnormal movement of the mitral valve leaflets, etc.
Prolapse (failure) of the mitral valve is the extension of the opening between the left atrium and the left ventricle or not tight closure of the mitral valve leaflets during the cardiac contraction (systole).
Congenital mitral valve prolapse 1-2 degrees, which occurs in many perfectly healthy people is not a dangerous disease and requires no treatment.
The occurrence of mitral valve prolapse may also in certain diseases (endocarditis, rheumatic fever, etc). In these diseases, mitral valve insufficiency and often long asymptomatic.
The main signs of mitral insufficiency are: shortness of breath, weakness, pain in the heart during exercise. In case of insufficiency of the mitral valve on ultrasound of the heart is determined by the thickening of the walls of the left ventricle and left atrium, incomplete closure of the mitral valve leaflets during contraction of the heart, etc. Doppler ultrasound to find out the extent of mitral valve insufficiency.
Malformations of the aortic valve
The aortic valve is located in the aorta and prevents blood back to the heart after a heart contraction.
Aortic Stenosis (aortic stenosis) is the narrowing of the openings through which the ejection of blood from the left ventricle into the aorta. Aortic stenosis long asymptomatic, in the future, manifested by weakness, dizziness, syncope on exertion, and pain in the heart area. In aortic stenosis on ultrasound of the heart is determined by the thickening of the walls of the left ventricle and left atrium (cardiac hypertrophy), as well as narrowing the diameter of the aortic orifice.
Prolapse (failure) of the aortic valve is insufficient closure flaps of the aortic valve, in which the blood returns from the aorta into the left ventricle. Prolapse of the aortic valve is often the result of the expansion of the bulb (initial segment) of the aorta. The main symptoms of aortic valve regurgitation are: shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, pain in the heart area. On ultrasound of the heart is determined by thickening of the left ventricle and left atrium, as well as Doppler ultrasound is determined by the backward flow of blood into the left ventricle (regurgitation).
A common characteristic of most cases of defects of the structure of the heart valves is asymptomatic for a long period of development.
Myocardial infarction is the death of part of the heart muscle that occurs as a result of impaired blood supply of the heart. The main symptoms of acute myocardial infarction are: severe pain in the heart region, extending to left side of neck, left arm, which lasts 15-20 minutes, shortness of breath, a sense of “interruption” in the heart, may be faint. On echocardiography in myocardial infarction is defined by the absence or weakening of the force of contraction of a certain portion of the heart muscle.
Pericardial effusion is a disease of the cardiac membrane (pericardium), which in the cavity of the pericardium around the heart accumulate fluid. There are many reasons for the development of exudative pericarditis: viral infection, acute myocardial infarction, chest trauma, tumors, etc.
The main symptoms of exudative pericarditis are: shortness of breath, a feeling of heaviness in the heart, brief episodes of loss of consciousness and others On ultrasound of the heart pleural effusion is defined by the presence of fluid in the pericardium (the heart bag).
Myocarditis is a group of diseases that are accompanied by inflammation of the heart muscle – myocardial. Myocarditis encountered in various viral, bacterial infections (such as diphtheria), as well as for poisoning toxins, etc. The main symptoms of myocarditis: a feeling of weakness, fatigue, a sense of “interruption” of the heart. Myocarditis on ultrasound of the heart is determined by the extension of all the cavities of the heart, reducing its contractility, reduction of the ejection fraction of the left ventricle (normal ejection fraction is above 50%).
Infective endocarditis is a disease of the inner lining of the heart (endocardium), which occurs as a result of falling into the bloodstream infection (bacteria, fungi) and deposits it on the heart valves. The main symptoms of infective endocarditis are: fever, chills, joint pain, pain in the heart, acute abdominal pain, etc. generally, the ultrasound infective endocarditis is accompanied by the appearance of vegetations (growths on the heart valves, as well as the presence of defects “breakthroughs” in the valves.
Ultrasound of the heart during fetal exposure
Modern apparatus for ultrasound have sufficient penetration and resolution in order to scan the structure of the fetal heart during fetal development. Usually the definition of the structure of the fetal heart using ultrasound is one of the components of the standard procedures ultrasound diagnosis during pregnancy.
It should be emphasized the fact that the structure of the fetal heart is very different from the structure of the fetus newborn baby. In particular, the fetal heart is perfectly normal open aorto-pulmonary channel (Batalov channel) that connects the aorta and pulmonary trunk, and the hole in the interatrial septum.
Assessment of the fetal heart can be very important in the case of pregnancy with high risk of having a child with a severe heart defect. In such cases, finding abnormalities of the heart baby by ultrasound, doctors can recommend to terminate a pregnancy or to carry out heart surgery on the unborn child.