If you’re doctor, or other health care provider referred you to have an echocardiogram, you might be surprised to see on the order that they in fact ordered a limited echocardiogram. If this came as a surprise to you, not to worry. I’ll take a moment here to explain what a limited echocardiogram is and how it differs from a complete echocardiogram.
What Is A Limited Echocardiogram?
I’ve been performing echocardiograms, as well as limited echocardiograms since 2005. And what I’ve learned along the way is that patients have many questions when it comes to having an echocardiogram done…whether its a limited, complete or something else like a stress echo or transesophageal echo (TEE). So you are not alone when you ask what a limited echocardiogram is.
A limited echocardiogram is essentially the same thing as a complete echocardiogram, except that it’s a condensed, shorter and often times faster exam.
During a complete echocardiogram, it’s the ultrasound tech’s job to visualize and record every single structure in the heart and measure blood flow and intracardiac pressures in all the chambers of the heart. Even if it’s only one thing that the doctor wants to know, such as your ejection fraction or pulmonary pressures, in a complete echocardiogram, the tech will spend time looking at everything.
Read More: What To Expect During an Echocardiogram
In a limited echocardiogram, the doctor who orders the exam will ask the ultrasound tech to look at a specific thing or things. For example, the doctor my only want to know what your aortic valve looks like. So the exam will only focus on that one things.
Often times limited exams can be completed much faster than complete exams, depending on what it is the imaging tech is asked to look at. However, this is not always the case.
Just remember that a limited echocardiogram is simply a condensed down version of a complete echocardiogram. That’s really the only difference. If you’ve had an echocardiogram done before, then you know what to expect. But if you’ve never had an echo done, and would like to know what to expect, be sure to read What To Expect During an Echocardiogram.