What Is Echocardiography?
This technology uses sound waves to record moving pictures of your heart so our specialists can see how the heart muscle, valves and chambers are working. An echocardiography tests for any collection of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion), as well as blood clots (thrombus) inside the heart chambers.
Echocardiography also measures the size of the heart and will detect if the heart is enlarged, thickened (hypertrophied) or if it has been weakened by a heart attack or other event. A weak heart can be a sign of coronary artery disease, where a blockage in a blood vessel does not allow enough blood flow to the heart muscle.
Combining echocardiography with the Doppler ultrasound measures the blood flow in the heart so that “leaky” and blocked valves can be seen. This procedure evaluates the aorta, which is the main artery that carries blood out of the heart, and detects aneurysms (an abnormal enlargement).
Congenital heart disease (heart defects that are present from birth) also can be detected with echocardiography.
Types of Echocardiography
This is the most common application of echocardiography. A special gel is applied to the chest wall and then an ultrasound transducer sends sound signals into the chest. These sound waves bounce off the heart and send a signal back that generates a picture of the heart. This is painless and noninvasive.
In this test the transducer is at the end of a flexible tube. After the throat is numbed with medication, the tube is passed through the mouth, down the throat and into the stomach. This allows for very detailed pictures of the heart without the ribs and lungs getting in the way.
Testing is available Monday–Friday.