The actual echocardiogram wasn’t a difficult test compared to everything else. It is basically a sonogram or ultrasound of the heart. It uses standard ultrasound techniques to image two-dimensional slices of the heart. The latest ultrasound systems now employ 3D real-time imaging (as seen on the right). In addition to creating two-dimensional pictures of the cardiovascular system, an echocardiogram can also produce accurate assessment of the velocity of blood and cardiac tissue at any arbitrary point using pulsed or continuous wave Doppler ultrasound. This allows assessment of cardiac valve areas and function, any abnormal communications between the left and right side of the heart, any leaking of blood through the valves, and calculation of the cardiac output as well as the ejection fraction.
The technician told me that my heart looked very healthy and incredibly strong. I started crying and reached forward hugging her. “I just really needed some good news,” I explained as I pulled away from embracing her. I realized that she had started crying, too. “Anyone who gives me good news gets a hug these days.” As I left I noticed the other technician who looked at me with sad and empathetic eyes. I guess cancer really does affect us all.