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July 2012 www.hindujahospital.com
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Diagnostic Test of the Month - Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram is a non- invasive diagnostic test, which utilizes the sound waves to generate a 2-D, 3-D or 4-D structure of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than a plain x-ray image and involves no radiation exposure. The test is also referred as cardiac ECHO or simply an ECHO. It is also known as Trans-thoracic Echocardiogram or cardiac ultrasound as the probe is placed on the chest wall (or thorax) and images are taken through the chest wall.

An echocardiogram allows the cardiologists to assess the heart beat, heart valves and other structures of the heart.

Contrast Echocardiogram

Occasionally, the lungs, ribs, or body tissue may prevent the sound waves and echoes from providing a clear picture of heart function. In such cases, the cardiac sonographer/technician may inject a small amount of liquid (contrast) through an IV for better views of the inside of the heart.

Trans-Esophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

In TEE,the back of your throat is numbed and a scope is inserted down your throat. On the end of the scope is a device that sends out sound waves. An experienced technician will guide the scope down to the lower part of the esophagus. It is used to get a clearer echocardiogram of your heart.

Stress Echocardiography

A stress echocardiogram, also known as a stress echo or SE, utilizes ultrasound imaging of the heart to assess wall motion of heart in response to physical stress. It is sa non-invasive and is performed in the presence of a licensed medical professional, such as a cardiologist, and an ultrasound technologist.


The echocardiogram allows doctors to diagnose, evaluate, and monitor :

  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Damage to the heart muscle in patients who have had heart attacks
  • Heart murmurs
  • Infection in the sac around the heart (Pericarditis)
  • Infection on or around the heart valves (Infectious Endocarditis)
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • The pumping function of the heart for people with heart failure
  • The source of a blood clot after a stroke.

You may be recommended to undergo a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) if:

  • The regular or transthoracic echocardiogram is unclear because you have a barrel chest, lung disease, or obesity
  • A much clearer picture of a certain area of the heart is needed.


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