An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than a plain
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, then a heart doctor interprets the results.
- An instrument called a transducer that releases high-frequency sound waves is placed on your ribs near the breast bone and directed toward the heart. Other images will be taken underneath and slightly to the left of your nipple and in the upper abdomen.
- 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.
- Pictures can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional, depending on the part of the heart being evaluated and the type of machine.
- A Doppler echocardiogram uses a probe to record the motion of blood through the heart.
An echocardiogram allows doctors to see the heart beating, and to see the heart valves and other structures of the heart.
Occasionally, your lungs, ribs, or body tissue may prevent the sound waves and echoes from providing a clear picture of heart function. If so, the sonographer may inject a small amount of liquid (contrast) through an IV to better see the inside of the heart.
Very rarely, more invasive testing using special echocardiography probes may be needed.
TRANSESOPHAGEAL ECHOCARDIOGRAM (TEE)
Review Date: 05/23/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.