Echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than an x-ray image and involves no radiation exposure.
Alternative Names: Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE), Doppler Ultrasound of the Heart
Preparation for this exam: There is no prep for this exam.
How this exam is performed: You will lie down angled to your left side for this exam. A clear, water-based conducting gel will be applied to your skin over your chest region. The gel will help transmit sound waves. A hand-held probe will then be moved over the region producing images. The echocardiogram works well for most patients and allows doctors to see the heart beating and to visualize many of the structures of the heart.*
Length of exam: 45 min.
* If the echocardiogram is unclear due to a barrel chest, congestive obstructive pulmonary disease, or obesity, your health care provider may choose to perform a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE). During a TEE exam, the back of your throat is anesthetized and a scope is inserted down your throat. On the end of the scope is an ultrasonic device that a cardiologist will guide down to the lower part of the esophagus, where it is used to obtain a more clear two-dimensional echocardiogram of your heart. The TEE does require conscious sedation and a driver for the patient must be present. This exam does require the patient to have nothing to eat or drink from midnight the night before.