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Echocardiography

Echocardiography is a diagnostic test that uses ultrasound waves to create an image of the heart muscle. Ultrasound waves that rebound or “echo” off the heart provides the physician with information regarding the size, shape, and movement of the heart’s valves and chambers as well as the flow of blood through the heart. Echocardiography may show such abnormalities as poorly functioning heart valves or damage to the heart tissue from a past heart attack.

Echocardiography Techniques

Transthoracic Echocardiogram

This technique, also referred to as a TTE, is the most common type of echocardiography. This procedure obtains views of the heart by moving a transducer to different locations on your chest or abdominal wall.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram

This technique, also called a TEE, is an incredibly effective diagnostic ultrasound test that allows a physician to examine the heart by way of a tube that is inserted into the esophagus. Due to the limitations of the traditional echocardiogram, which views the heart through the chest wall, the TEE allows extremely clear images of many parts of the heart’s structures and blood flow that may be quite difficult or impossible to capture otherwise.

Echocardiographic Stress Testing

This technique is performed by completing an echocardiogram both before and after the heart is “stressed”. This stress is created by either having the patient to exercise or by injecting a medicine that causes the heart to beat harder and faster. This test is typically performed to assess the rate of blood flow to the heart.