An echocardiogram is a specialized, non-invasive type of sonogram (ultrasound image) that your Hudson County cardiologist may use to assess your heart health. It uses high-frequency sound waves that create a real-time image of your heart as they bounce off of it. Using these “live” images, your doctors can visualize the internal structures of your heart, and assess its size, shape, pumping capacity, and the presence of any possible tissue damage. An echocardiogram can also provide information about critical heart functions such as the volume of blood pumped, the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat, and how effectively the heart relaxes between beats.

Echocardiograms require no preparation on your part, and are administered by ultrasound technicians who have undergone extensive training on how to interpret the test results and make accurate diagnoses for our Cross County Cardiology patients. Depending on the types of information your doctor is looking for, you may have one or more of the following specialized types of echocardiograms:

Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE): This most common type of echocardiogram is used to measure the size and shape of the heart, to check its ability to pump blood properly, and to check the thickness of the heart wall. A TTE requires no preparation on your part and is performed in our offices by a trained sonographer, who spreads a conductive gel on your chest and then uses a hand-held wand called a transducer to record the sound waves bouncing back from your heart. The test is painless and takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes.

Doppler echocardiogram: This advanced form of ultrasound imaging uses the Doppler Effect to detect motion, and thus can use the reflected sound waves to evaluate blood flow through your heart, its valves, and your blood vessels. Doctors use Doppler ultrasound to evaluate blood flow in the arms, legs and neck.

Stress echocardiogram: This type of echocardiogram is performed in conjunction with a regular stress test, and tells your doctor if you have decreased blood flow to your heart, which is often a sign of coronary artery disease. The “stress” part of the name means only that your heart will be monitored both before and after a brief period of exercise, to see how your heart performs while active and resting.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): A TEE is an imaging procedure that is sometimes used to display more clear images of the heart’s movement. This is considered an invasive procedure and is performed in a hospital because the transducer is inserted in the throat to get closer to the heart. Click the link to find out more about this specialized type of echocardiogram.

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