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General Radiology

Echocardiography

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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 x-ray image and involves no radiation exposure. An echocardiogram allows doctors to see the heart beating, and to see the heart valves and other structures of the heart. Echocardiography works by placing a tool that released high high-frequency sound waves called a transducer on your ribs near the breast bone and directed toward the heart to take images by picking up the echoes of sound waves and transmitting them as electrical impulses. The echocardiography machine converts these impulses into two-dimensional or three-dimensional moving pictures of the heart.

Preparation
No special preparations are necessary for a standard transthoracic echocardiogram.

Procedure
For most ultrasound exams, you will be positioned lying face-up on an examination table that

Despite the complexity and detail of the results the procedure itself is quite simple and straightforward:

  • An instrument called a transducer 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.