What's it for?
An echocardiogram, or echo, is a noninvasive, diagnostic test that allows doctors to take pictures of your heart and see its chambers as they move and pump blood. An echo is essentially the same as a pregnancy ultrasound, except instead of seeing the baby you see the heart.
This test is used to assess both the structure and the function of your heart. It can be used to detect many types of heart disease and can also track the effectiveness of various medications and treatments. The picture is much more detailed than a plain x-ray image and involves no radiation exposure.
How it's done
Echocardiography is the study of heart and function using sound waves (ultrasound). This is done by moving an ultrasound transducer to various locations on your chest, back or abdomen in order to image each structure of the heart from various viewpoints. A water-soluable gel is used to conduct the sound waves from the transducer to your body. You will not be able to feel or hear sound waves themselves, but you will feel the slight pressure of the transducer on your body as the sonographer positions it in various locations.
Occasionally, an intravenous line needs to be inserted to allow for the administration of small gas bubbles that enhance the images.
Many patients find the exam to be a pleasant and interesting experience. Please tell us if you have concerns. We are here to help you!
Technology and expertise at Lee Health
Lee Health provides the most advanced technology in the region for echocardiograms.
Echocardiograms for diagnosing heart disease include:
- Three-dimensional (3D) echocardiogram: uses the latest signal processing technology to construct a three dimensional picture of your heart. These images provide your doctors with a complete picture of your heart, enabling them to recommend the best treatment for your heart disease.
- Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE): creates images of the heart using an ultrasound transducer placed against the chest. The ulttrasound can see through the skin and chest wall to the heart and create live motion pictures of the cardiac structure and function. Doppler and color doppler are used during this procedure to provide better analysis of blood flow patterns.
- Stress echocardiogram: allows doctors to see how your heart looks and performs when it is under the stress of exercise.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): provides a detailed look at your heart from a perspective that is not possible with traditional echocardiograms.
Who to contact
For questions related to cardiovascular care or services, email us at Hearts@leememorial.org
View this topic in our Health Encyclopedia.