Alternate Names : Transesophageal Echocardiogram, Echocardiography, Doppler Ultrasound of the Heart
An echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the heart. An echocardiogram helps the healthcare provider evaluate a person's heart valves and chambers.
An echocardiogram is a good method for diagnosing some types of heart disease and for finding tumors or blood clots in the upper chambers of the heart. It is also good for monitoring the heart after a heart attack.
Who is a candidate for the test?
Many people with heart disease are candidates for an echocardiogram. An echocardiogram may also be done before other procedures, to provide a picture of overall heart structure and function.
Echocardiography can help diagnose the following conditions:
congenital heart disease, or defects that are present at birth
coronary artery disease
diseases of the sac and fluid that surround the heart
problems with the muscles of the heart
problems with the structure of the heart, such as the chambers, valves, or aorta
How is the test performed?
For this test, the doctor or technician places a device called a transducer on the chest and aims it at the heart. The transducer sends out and receives sound waves that bounce off the heart. A computer takes these returning sound waves, or echoes, and turns them into a picture of the heart.
In some cases, the picture of the heart may not be clear because of obesity, a barrel chest, or lung disorders. In these cases, the healthcare provider can do transesophageal echocardiography. For this test, the provider numbs the person's throat. Then a special transducer is placed inside the throat. From there, the sound waves are aimed at the heart.