An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The sonographer will put gel on the transducer and trace your chest. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart and these echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that we see on a video screen. Usually the test takes about 30 minutes and is done in either of our offices.
This test is usually done for the following reasons:
- Look for the cause of abnormal heart sounds (murmurs or clicks), an enlarged heart, unexplained chest.
- Pain or pressure, shortness of breath, or irregular heartbeats.
- Check the thickness and movement of the heart wall.
- Measure the size and shape of the heart’s chambers.
- Look at the heart valves and check how well they work.
- Check the ability of your heart chambers to pump blood (cardiac performance).
- See how well an artificial heart valve is working.
- Detect a disease that affects the heart muscle and the way it pumps, such as cardiomyopathy.
- Look for blood clots and tumors inside the heart.
- Look for congenital heart defects.
- Check how well your heart works after a heart attack.
- Identify the specific cause of heart failure.
- Look for a collection of fluid around the heart.
- Look for a thickening of the lining (pericardium) around the heart.
Echocardiograms are available at both our Shadyside and Jefferson Offices.