Different types of echocardiography courses include transesophageal echocardiography, fetal echocardiography, adult echocardiography and echocardiography instrumentation. Additional courses include those focused on physiology of the heart, sonography, stress echocardiography and pediatric echocardiography. Students who are first entering the study of echocardiography, which is the utilization of ultrasound waves and their echoes to probe activities of the heart, generally have at least an associate’s degree in a health discipline and take introductory courses that teach related terminology, techniques, protocol and professional precautions.
Transesophageal echocardiography courses focus on reading the heart’s movement and condition through an endoscope that is inserted into the esophagus. In these courses, students learn the proper anesthesia for such a procedure, formally called a transesophageal echocardiogram. Courses related to this type of surgical procedure can focus on which cardiac patients might benefit from this type of echocardiogram, how to interpret the image of the heart that is created by the ultrasound waves and how to determine the blood flow velocity from the sound waves.
Fetal, adult and pediatric echocardiography courses all focus on using echocardiograms to diagnose heart conditions in specific demographics: fetuses, adults and children, respectively. These courses do an in-depth study of heart issues linked to particular age groups. For example, in the pediatric courses, cognitive heart failure is one condition that is often studied through the use of echocardiograms. In fetal courses, in which students learn about testing the heart condition of an unborn baby during the latter months of pregnancy, poor heart development because of abnormal genes or chromosomes is a typical focus.
Echocardiography instrumentation courses involve the study of equipment used in creating echocardiograms, such as the many varieties of transducers, which convert sound to image. Some use a pulse Doppler effect, and others use a sustained Doppler effect. Students learn to read any test results produced by the instruments by analyzing features such as wave motion, wave amplitude and wave brightness. How to analyze resolution and image contrast would also be taught in echocardiography courses that are focused on instrumentation.
Stress echocardiography courses teach students how to measure echoes that are created by bouncing sound waves off the heart as a patient experiences supervised cardiovascular stress. In the realm of echocardiography, stress usually means physical exercise; the most typical exercise used for stress echocardiography is running or walking on a treadmill at a maximum rate. Echocardiography-related physiology courses teach students the entire framework of the heart and all of its cavities, and sonography courses teach students how to recognize and interpret sound patterns.