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SCRMCEchocardiogram

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram uses soundwaves to produce images of your heart. This common test allows your doctor to see your heart beating a pumping blood. An echocardiogram can be used to identify heart disease.

Why would you need one?

Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram to:

  • Check for problems with the valves or heart chambers
  • Check if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as chest pain
  • Detect congenital heart defects before birth (fetal echocardiogram)

The type of echocardiogram you have depends on the information your doctor needs.

Transthoracic Echocardiogram

This is the standard type of echocardiogram:

  • A technician (sonographer) spreads gel on a device (transducer).
  • The sonographer presses the transducer firmly against your skin, aiming an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart.
  • The transducer records the sound wave echoes from your heart.
  • A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram

If your doctor wants more detailed images or it’s difficult to get a clear picture of your heart, your doctor may recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram.

In this procedure:

  • A technician (sonographer) spreads gel on a device (transducer).
  • The sonographer presses the transducer firmly against your skin, aiming an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart.
  • The transducer records the sound wave echoes from your heart.
  • A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.

Doppler Echocardiogram

Sound waves change pitch when they bounce off blood cells moving through your heart and blood vessels. These changes (Doppler signals) can help your doctor measure the speed and direction of the blood flow in your heart. Doppler techniques are generally used in transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms.

Stress Echocardiogram

Some heart problems occur only during physical activity. Your doctor may recommend a stress echocardiogram to check for coronary artery problems.