What is echocardiography?
Echocardiography is ultrasound of the heart. It is used to evaluate the internal structures of the heart and flow of blood through the chambers.
How is an echo different from x-rays?
X-rays can show the overall size of the heart, but do not show these internal structures. So in animals with an enlarged heart on x-rays, ultrasound can show us why the heart is enlarged. Also many types of heart disease do not lead to enlargement of the heart, so ultrasound may be the only way to diagnose it.
What animals should have an echo?
Any animal diagnosed with a heart murmur can benefit from an echo to determine if the murmur is due to significant heart disease. Also breeds at risk of heart disease (e.g. dogs – Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dobermans, Boxers and cats – Sphynxes, Bengals, Maine Coons, etc.) should be screened to be able to identify any heart disease as early as possible. Also animals with pre-existing heart disease should be monitored to evaluate progression of their disease.