Echos or Echocardiograms

An echocardiogram, also called an echo, uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This commonly used test allows your doctor to see your heart beating and pumping blood. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify heart disease.

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What is an Echocardiogram:

An echocardiogram, also called an echo, is a type of ultrasound test that evaluates the heart, the heart's valve function, and the blood flow in both. It also evaluates the motion of the heart’s walls and the amount of blood the heart pumps with each stroke.

Technically, echocardiograms use high-pitched sound waves sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up the echoes of these sound waves as they bounce back off your heart. These echoes are turned into real-time, moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a monitor. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to better see or identify blood flow across the heart's valves.

Doctors often suggest an echocardiogram when they suspect problems with the valves or chambers of a patient’s heart or it’s ability to pump. However, an echocardiogram is also able to be used to detect congenital heart defects in unborn babies.

Besides the ability to assess the overall function of your heart, an echo can help determine the presence of many types of heart disease, follow the progress of heart valve diseases over time or evaluate the effectiveness of medical or surgical treatments.

Depending on what information a doctor needs, they may request one of the following kinds of echocardiograms:

Adenosine/Sestamibi Stress Echocardiogram
Dobutamine Echocardiogram
Doppler Echocardiogram
Intravascular Ultrasound
Stress Echocardiogram
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE)

Getting an Echocardiogram:

Find out what the experience is like and what you should expect.

Before the Echocardiogram
During the Echocardiogram
After the Echocardiogram

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atrioventricular Ultrasounds of valve in two views

Above: Echocardiograms can measure the conditions of the heart such as the atrioventricular valve shown above.

ECG ultrasound of heart in two views

Above: ECG ultrasound of the heart.


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IMPORTANT: The information on this page, and throughout the entire site, is not intended to provide advice or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s). Images are shown for illustrative purposes. Do not attempt to draw conclusions or make diagnoses by comparing these image to other medical images, particularly your own.

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