During an echocardiogram (also called an echo), a transducer (like a microphone) sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed on the chest at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the heart tissues, where the waves bounce or "echo" off of the heart structures. These sound waves are sent to a computer that can create moving images of the heart walls and valves.
There are several types of echocardiograms, including:
The Doppler echocardiogram is used to measure and assess the flow of blood through the heart's chambers and valves. The amount of blood pumped out with each beat is an indication of the heart's functioning. Also, Doppler can detect abnormal blood flow within the heart, which can indicate a problem with one or more of the heart's four valves, or with the heart's walls.
A stress echocardiogram (echo) is performed to assess the heart's response to stress or exercise. The echo is monitored while a person is exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike.
During a transesophageal echocardiogram, the patient’s throat is numbed and an endoscopic probe is swallowed, providing a close-up image of the heart; patients remain conscious, but are sedated for their comfort during the procedure.
Performed under local anesthesia, an intracardiac echocardiogram is performed by passing a thin, flexible tube with a tiny transducer through an artery by way of a small nick in the arm, wrist or groin. The physician positions the catheter so that ultrasound images of the heart and its valves can be recorded and interpreted for potential problems or disease. The procedure produces more direct visualization of heart structures than most other tests and enables physicians to develop a precise treatment plan tailored to the patient’s needs.
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To request an appointment with a cardiovascular physician or for a non-invasive cardiac test at a Crozer Health facility, please complete the online secure appointment form below or call 1-866-957-8573. A representative will get back to you within the next business day. We regret that we cannot take appointment requests for pediatric patients at this time.
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