An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than an X-ray image and involves no radiation exposure. This test is also known as a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE); Doppler ultrasound of the heart, or surface echo.
Why is the test done: This test is performed to evaluate the valves and chambers of the heart in a noninvasive manner. The echocardiogram allows doctors to evaluate heart murmurs, check the pumping function of the heart, and evaluate patients who have had heart attacks. It is a very good screening test for heart disease in certain groups of patients.
How the test is performed: A trained sonographer performs the test and your physician interprets the results. An instrument that transmits high-frequency sound waves called a transducer is placed on your ribs near the breast bone and directed toward the heart. The transducer picks up the echoes of the sound waves and transmits them as electrical impulses. The echocardiography machine converts these impulses into moving pictures of the heart.
Echocardiogram images are typically quite clear and allow doctors to see the motion of the beating heart, valve structures / function, and quantify pumping efficiency. Occasionally, your lungs, ribs, or body tissue may prevent the sound waves and echoes from providing a clear picture of heart function. The sonographer may administer a small amount of a dye through an IV to better see the inside of the heart.
What to Expect: Upon arriving at the office, you will change into a gown, undressing from the waist up. You will lie on an examination table on your back. Electrodes will be placed onto your chest to allow for an ECG to be done. A gel will be spread on your chest and then the transducer will be applied. You will feel a slight pressure on your chest from the transducer. You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll over onto your left side. There are no known risks associated with this test. This test takes approximately 45 minutes
Preparation: There is no special preparation for the test. You may eat prior to your study and take your medications as prescribed.
Locations: Currently, this test can be performed in our Farmington Hills and Novi offices.