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An echocardiogram can give doctors moving images of your hearts walls and valves.
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.
There are several types of echocardiograms, including:
Doppler echocardiograms are 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 level. In addition, Doppler echocardiograms 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.
An intracardiac echocardiogram is performed under local anesthesia 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.
Schedule an Appointment
To request an appointment for an echocardiogram, please call 1-866-95-PULSE (1-866-957-8573) or request an appointment online.