Cross County Cardiology – Mount Sinai uses a variety of approaches to diagnose heart problems. An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a specialized, noninvasive type of ultrasound image (sonogram). It can help us assess your heart health. Echocardiograms use high-frequency sound waves that create a real-time image of your heart as they bounce off it. Using these “live” images, your doctors can see the internal structures of your heart. We can assess its size, shape, pumping capacity, and any possible tissue damage. An echocardiogram can also provide information about critical heart functions. It tells us about how much blood your heart is pumping overall and with each heartbeat. It also shows us how well your heart relaxes between beats.
You do not have to do anything to prepare for an echocardiogram. Our ultrasound technicians perform the procedure. They have had extensive training on interpreting the test results and making accurate diagnoses.
Types of Echocardiogram
There are several types of echocardiograms. Each one provides specific information. These include:
Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE): This most common type of echocardiogram measures the size and shape of the heart, checks its ability to pump blood properly, and assesses the thickness of the heart wall. Our technician spreads a conductive gel on your chest and uses a hand-held wand to record the sound waves bouncing back from your heart. The wand is called a transducer. This painless test takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
Doppler echocardiogram: This advanced form of ultrasound imaging uses the Doppler effect to detect motion. Assessing the reflected sound waves lets us evaluate the blood flow through your heart, valves, and blood vessels. Doctors use Doppler ultrasound to evaluate blood flow in the arms, legs, and neck.
Stress echocardiogram: Doctors often use this test together with a regular stress test to identify decreased blood flow to your heart. When your heart gets less blood than it should, this could be a sign of coronary artery disease. The “stress” part of the name means that we monitor your heart before and after a brief period of exercise. This shows us how stress—or exercise—affects how your heart performs.
Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): This imaging procedure produces especially clear images of the heart’s movement. It is considered an invasive procedure. We perform this procedure in a hospital because we insert the transducer down your throat to get closer to the heart.