A cardiac ultrasound is a tool that doctors use to take images of the heart – sound waves are emitted and bounce back to create detailed pictures. It may also be referred to as an echo test or an echo-cardiogram. These tests are safe, do not require anesthesia, there is no recovery time and no risk of radiation. You can stay with your baby during the procedure and watch it as it happens.
Often, you will find the doctor is willing to talk you through the process they are undertaking and will show you what they are seeing and explain it, too. It makes for a very involved testing process and you can rest easy knowing nothing is being hidden from you. It may also be a technician who carries out the test, they will be unable to provide you with as much information as they aren’t able to make a diagnosis. The doctor will need to review the images before a diagnosis can be discussed with you.
There are a variety of ways it can help and when it comes to your baby, there are three main reasons.
1. Detecting Heart Defects
If your primary care physician suspects that your baby may have a heart defect then the doctor will order a cardiac ultrasound. This provides doctors with a clear image of the organ and allows the doctor to make a quick and accurate diagnosis.
2. Ruling Out Diagnosis
This is just as important as using a cardiac ultrasound to make a diagnosis. The procedure allows doctors to rule out specific diseases and conditions and helps facilitate the diagnosis. This might not seem important to you, but having this facility will increase the speed with which a doctor can make a diagnosis for your baby. The test is widely available so you won’t need to wait long before it’s carried out, thus improving the speed of the overall process. This is why it saves so many lives.
3. Fetal Development
Yes, before your baby is even born you can take advantage of cardiac ultrasounds. There are a variety of reasons why it would be beneficial for you to have this procedure done. If you, or a first-degree relative, have a diagnosed heart defect it is wise to have a cardiac ultrasound completed on your unborn child. This will detect possible issues ahead of time. Additionally, if you take certain medications known to cause heart defects, if there is an abnormality picked up during a routine ultrasound, the baby’s heartbeat is irregular, or if there as generational diseases in the family.
The truth is, cardiac ultrasounds are one of the most affordable tests available, as well as the safest. They can help doctors diagnose a variety of diseases, and they are also often used to aid surgery and the care before and after an operation. They have saved countless lives over the years and due to their increasing availability will only continue to do so for years to come.
Now, portable units are available which improves health care for those living in rural communities who are generally forced to wait or travel to receive necessary testing. They are appropriate for people of all ages and the process is completely safe.