Question: What is intracardiac ultrasound, and is this different from an echocardiogram?
Answer :Ultrasound is one of the useful tests in medicine today and in particular in cardiovascular medicine for heart disease. We can use ultrasound in several ways; an ultrasound obtained through the body surface through the chest wall is a transthoracic echocardiogram this is what most people mean by an echocardiogram. And this is a very useful test to study the heart function, enlargement of the chambers, abnormality of the valves.
We often use a transesophageal echocardiogram, an ultrasound obtained from inside the esophagus, a swallowing tube, to rule out conditions, for example a clot in the left atrium, which can be a risk factor for stroke. This test maybe performed prior to a cardio version procedure to treat atrial fibrillation but even more recently we've used intracardiac ultrasound in one or two ways it's used inside the coronary arteries to determine exactly how tight a narrowing a stenosis is whether a blockage or stenosis might need a stent or angioplasty or whether it could be safely and optimally be treated with medications.
In electrophysiology, we are using intracardiac ultrasound to help us locate structures in the heart that maybe the source of arrhythmias and to facilitate the treatments for example ablations treatments where intracardiac ultrasound helps us position the catheters in one chamber or another.