Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram to:
- Check for problems with the valves or chambers of your heart
- Check if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain
- Detect congenital heart defects before birth (fetal echocardiogram)
The type of echocardiogram you have depends on the information your doctor needs.
In this standard type of echocardiogram:
- A technician (sonographer) spreads gel on a device (transducer).
- The sonographer presses the transducer firmly against your skin, aiming an ultrasound beam through your chest to your heart.
- The transducer records the sound wave echoes from your heart.
- A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.
If your lungs or ribs block the view, you may need a small amount of an enhancing agent injected through an intravenous (IV) line. The enhancing agent, which is generally safe and well-tolerated, will make your heart’s structures show up more clearly on a monitor.
If your doctor wants more-detailed images or it’s difficult to get a clear picture of your heart with a standard echocardiogram, your doctor may recommend a transesophageal echocardiogram.
- Type of service