Echocardiography uses ultrasound waves to make picture of structures inside the heart. Intracardiac echocardiogram (ICE) is a catheter-based form of echocardiography that gathers images from within the heart, rather than by gathering images of the heart by sending sound waves through the chest wall.
How Does an Intracardiac Echocardiogram Work?
An echocardiogram works by sending harmless sound waves from an instrument, called a transducer. As the sound waves reflect back from structures in the heart to the transducer, the echocardiogram machine receives and interprets them – and creates a moving picture of the heart’s internal structures. With intracardiac echocardiogram, the echo transducer is at the tip of a catheter – a thin, flexible tube that is inserted through a puncture into the blood vessel near the groin. The catheter is threaded through this blood vessel to the heart, where the sound waves create a much more detailed moving image inside the heart to view the heart valves and heart structures than is possible through traditional echocardiography.
How Is an Intracardiac Echocardiogram Performed?
Intracardiac echocardiography is an invasive procedure, using a catheter passed through the bloodstream, and is typically performed in conjunction with a cardiac catheterization or angiogram or to guide therapies such as closing a hole in the heart.
Is an Intracardiac Echocardiogram Safe?
The associated risks of ICE are similar to an angiogram and include a small risk of bleeding, heart attack or stroke.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Intracardiac Echocardiography (ICE)
The following questions can help you talk to your physician about having an angiogram. Consider printing out or writing down these questions and taking them with you to your appointment. Taking notes can help you remember your physician’s response when you get home.
- What can intracardiac echocardiography tell us about my heart?
- What are the possible benefits for me of ICE?
- What are my individual risks associated with having an ICE test?
- What other test or procedure will ICE be performed with?
Please print this list of questions here. Take them with you to the doctor and share them with friends and loved ones when you are encouraging them to see their doctors.