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St. Croix HealthEchocardiogram

Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram is a test that uses electrodes and ultrasound technology to see how heart chambers and valves are pushing blood through your heart. This test is used to help doctors diagnose heart conditions.

Why would you need one?

Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram to:

  • Check for problems with the valves or heart chambers
  • Check if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as chest pain
  • Detect congenital heart defects before birth (fetal echocardiogram)

The type of echocardiogram you have depends on the symptoms of your condition.

Transthoracic Echocardiogram

This is the standard type of echocardiogram:

  • An Echocardiographer (sonographer) spreads gel on a device (transducer).
  • The sonographer presses the transducer firmly against your skin, aiming an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart.
  • The transducer records the sound wave echoes from your heart.
  • A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram

A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart. A TEE is different than other forms of echocardiogram or ultrasounds because it takes pictures from within your body, rather than outside of it.

In this procedure:

  • You will be mildly sedated and under close observation before the procedure.
  • An Echocardiographer (sonographer) spreads gel on a device (transducer).
  • The sonographer and a physician use a long, thin tube called an endoscope to carefully guide a small transducer down your throat and esophagus (food tube). The transducer is a device that makes sound waves
  • The transducer records the sound wave echoes from your heart.
  • A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.

Doppler Echocardiogram

Sound waves change pitch when they bounce off blood cells moving through your heart and blood vessels. These changes (Doppler signals) can help your doctor measure the speed and direction of the blood flow in your heart. Doppler techniques are generally used in transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms.

Stress Echocardiogram

Is a test done to see how well your heart functions during periods of stress. it can help determine your limit of exercise, if you have heart disease, if it is safe to perform a heart surgery, and other possible conditions.