Main AHCA Website

AHCA’s main website for information on Medicaid, Health Quality Assurance and the Florida Center for Health Information and Policy Analysis.

Go >

Florida Health Information Network

This website provides information and resources relating to AHCA’s initiatives for Health Information Technology and Health Information Exchange.

Go >


FloridaHealthFinder.gov

Provides health education and information to compare and locate health care providers in Florida to make well-informed health care decisions.

Go >
AHCA Network of Websites

Health Education


Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Echocardiogram

Definition

An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart. The picture and information it produces is more detailed than a standard x-ray image. An echocardiogram does not expose you to radiation.

Alternative Names

Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE); Echocardiogram - transthoracic; Doppler ultrasound of the heart; Surface echo

How the Test is Performed

TRANSTHORACIC ECHOCARDIOGRAM (TTE)

TTE is the type of echocardiogram that most people will have.

  • A trained sonographer performs the test. A heart doctor (cardiologist) interprets the results.
  • An instrument called a transducer is placed on various locations on your chest and upper abdomen and directed toward the heart. This device releases high-frequency sound waves.
  • The transducer picks up the echoes of sound waves and transmits them as electrical impulses. The echocardiography machine converts these impulses into moving pictures of the heart. Still pictures are also taken.
  • Pictures can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional. The type of picture will depend on the part of the heart being evaluated and the type of machine.
  • A Doppler echocardiogram records the motion of blood through the heart.

An echocardiogram shows the heart while it is beating. It also shows the heart valves and other structures.

In some cases, your lungs, ribs, or body tissue may prevent the sound waves and echoes from providing a clear picture of heart function. If this is a problem, the sonographer may inject a small amount of liquid (contrast) through an IV to better see the inside of the heart.

Rarely, more invasive testing using special echocardiography probes may be needed.

TRANSESOPHAGEAL ECHOCARDIOGRAM (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. A heart doctor with special training will guide the scope down the esophagus. This method is used to get a clearer echocardiogram of your heart.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special steps are needed before a TTE test. If you are having a TEE, you will not be able to eat or drink for several hours before the test.

How the Test will Feel

During the test:

  • You will need to take off your clothes from the waist up and lie on an exam table on your back.
  • Electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart beat.
  • A gel is spread on your chest and the transducer will be moved over your skin. 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. Sometimes a special bed is used to help you stay in the proper position.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done to evaluate the valves and chambers of the heart from the outside of your body. The echocardiogram can help detect:

  • Abnormal heart valves
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack
  • Heart murmurs
  • Inflammation (pericarditis) or fluid in the sac around the heart (pericardial effusion)
  • Infection on or around the heart valves (infectious endocarditis)
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Ability of the heart to pump (for people with heart failure)
  • Source of a blood clot after a stroke or TIA

Your health care provider may recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) if:

  • The regular or transthoracic echocardiogram is unclear. Unclear results may be due to the shape of your chest, lung disease, or excess body fat.
  • An area of the heart needs to be looked at in more detail.

Normal Results

A normal echocardiogram reveals normal heart valves and chambers and normal heart wall movement.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal echocardiogram can mean many things. Some abnormalities are very minor and do not pose major risks. Other abnormalities are signs of serious heart disease. You will need more tests by a specialist in this case. It is very important to talk about the results of your echocardiogram with your provider.

Risks

There are no known risks from an external transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) test.

There is some risk associated with the transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) test. Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is an invasive procedure. Talk with your health care provider about risks associated with this test.

Considerations

Abnormal results may indicate:

This test is used to evaluate and monitor many different heart conditions.

References

Solomon SD, Wu J, Gillam L and Bulwer B. Echocardiography. In: Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, et al. eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 14.

Review Date:4/20/2015
Reviewed By:Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Health
Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Read More

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No

2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No