An echocardiogram is a noninvasive, painless, test that uses
ultrasound (high frequency sound waves) to produce a two dimensional
image of the heart. As we view the beating heart on a television
monitor, we can measure heart chamber sizes and wall thickness, assess
the strength of the heart and examine its structure, including the
heart valves. Color flow and Doppler techniques use ultrasound
frequencies to measure the degree of valvular obstruction (stenosis)
or leakage (regurgitation or insufficiency).
Echocardiograms are commonly ordered to evaluate heart murmurs,
palpitations, chest pain and valvular abnormalities. They are
essential tools for understanding congestive heart failure.
Stress echocardiograms combine stress testing, either with
treadmill exercise or with intravenous Dobutamine, and an
echocardiogram. The stress-echo combination can shed further
information on specific regions of the heart muscle or the heart
valves when your body demands increased blood flow.
The transesophageal echocardiogram is a more invasive procedure
during which you are lightly sedated to help you swallow a probe that
is attached with an echocardiogram transducer. By imaging from the
esophagus (passage leading from the mouth to the stomach), we reduce
the tissue thickness that exists between the chest wall and the heart,
and are able to produce more detailed echo images.
- No special preparations are necessary for routine
echocardiograms. Allow up to one hour.
- Stress echocardiograms require no food or drink four (4) hours
before the test.
- Transesophageal echocardiograms require fasting from the
- Routine medications should be taken for all types of