Echocardiography uses high-frequency sound waves (called ultrasound) to create moving images of the heart. Cardiologists at Portsmouth Regional Hospital review echocardiograms to assess the size, shape and motion of the heart and to pinpoint heart muscles that aren't contracting properly. Echocardiograms can detect blood clots, fluid buildup around the heart, valve conditions and other heart problems.
An echocardiogram may be combined with a stress test—walking on a treadmill—to evaluate heart function before and after exercise. A related test, a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), is an ultrasound test that visualizes the anatomy of the heart using a small probe placed inside the esophagus.
How You Benefit
An echocardiogram is a painless test that allows your doctor to look at your heart in motion and diagnose many heart issues. Images generated during the test are displayed on a computer screen and can be captured and saved as video or still shots. The test usually takes less than an hour.
What to Expect
During this test, a professional technician places a small microphone-like device called a transducer against your chest and moves it around to obtain different views of your heart.