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What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is an imaging technology that helps diagnose heart problems. The echocardiogram creates a moving image of your heart using high-frequency sound waves that your doctor can view on a screen.

A highly trained echocardiogram technician performs your procedure at Advanced Diagnostics and Imaging. They use a probe called a transducer to send sound waves into your chest. The sound waves are so high-pitched you can’t hear them. They painlessly go through your skin and muscles and into your heart.

The sound waves bounce back to the transducer when they hit your heart. The transducer sends the information to the echocardiogram computer, which translates the sound wave echoes into images of your heart’s chambers, valves, and blood vessels.

Why would I need an echocardiogram?

Your doctor or cardiologist might refer you for an echocardiogram if you have symptoms of a heart condition. The echocardiogram images contain vital information about your heart, including:

  • Its size and shape
  • How well it’s pumping
  • The thickness of the heart muscle walls
  • The health of the valves and lining
  • Abnormalities in your blood vessels
  • Holes between the chambers
  • The presence of blood clots
  • Whether there’s a tumor

This information helps your doctor diagnose problems like congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease.

Are there different kinds of echocardiogram?

There are several kinds of echocardiograms. A regular transthoracic echocardiogram is like having an abdominal ultrasound, where the transducer is on the outside of your body.

Other forms of echocardiogram include:

Transesophageal echocardiogram

You might need a transesophageal echocardiogram if something like scar tissue or fat is stopping transthoracic sound waves from getting to your heart. It’s a more invasive procedure that requires sedation and a local anesthetic. Your provider passes the transducer into your esophagus until it reaches your heart and is close enough to create an image without any interference.

Stress echocardiogram

A stress test might be necessary if a standard resting echocardiogram doesn’t show any abnormalities. For a stress echocardiogram, you need to walk on a treadmill to raise your heart rate. Or you can take medication that does the same if you’re too sick to exercise. Making your heart beat faster can show up problems that weren’t apparent on your resting echocardiogram.

To find out more about echocardiograms and benefit from Advanced Diagnostics and Imaging state-of-the-art technology, call their office or book an appointment online today.