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A cardiac echocardiogram is an ultrasound used to evaluate the structure and function of the heart. It can help to further evaluate signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of heart disease, aneurysm, cardiac valve disease, a cardiac tumor or other conditions. Sound waves echo off the heart, back to the computer and the computer interprets the echos into images of the heart walls and valves. These images can be seen on a monitor screen and recorded for later interpretation. Echocardiograms can show:

  • the size of the heart and its chambers
  • the thickness of the heart muscle
  • the pumping strength of the heart
  • the valve function
  • the presence of blood clots
  • the presence of fluid around the heart
  • other heart abnormalities

An echocardiogram may use one or more of the different techniques listed below:

2-D Echocardiogram

This is a two-dimensional view of the shape and real-time motion of the heart structures.

Doppler Echocardiography

This measures and assesses the flow of the blood through the heart's chambers and valves.

Color Doppler

This is an advanced form of Doppler Echocardiography. Different colors help indicate the direction of blood flow, simplifying the interpretation.

Echocardiogram with Contrast

This helps to detect abnormalities between the right and left sides of the heart.

Test Procedure

  1. EKG electrodes will be placed on your chest.
  2. You will be asked to lie on your side for approximately 30 minutes.
  3. The room will be darkened so that the technician can view the echo images.
  4. The echo technician will put gel on your chest to record movement of your heart by moving a transducer(probe) around your chest, applying pressure from different angles.
  5. A cardiologist will review the test and interpret it for your follow-up visit or for forwarding to your referring physician.