Other Names: Doppler ultrasound of the heart; transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE); transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Description/Test Basics/Reasons for the test: An echocardiogram is a painless non-invasive diagnostic test that uses ultrasound, or high-frequency sound waves to create beating images of the heart, including the heart muscle, heart valves and blood vessels surrounding the heart, allowing Dr. Qureshi to evaluate your heart muscle, heart valves, and risk for heart disease. A safe and painless test, the “echo machine” projects a moving, two-dimensional image of the heart onto a monitor using an instrument (the transducer) that send soundwaves to the heart. A transducer, a type of modified microphone, turns electrical energy into sound waves, sends those sound waves into the body, which bounce off tissues in the heart and are sent back to the “echo machine” for later analysis. Echocardiography is primarily used to detect and assess the following:

  • The function of the heart muscle, blood vessels, and valves. A doppler echocardiogram measures the speed and direction of blood flow through the heart, allowing your cardiologist to screen for leaky valves or other abnormalitites;
  • Pumping ability of the heart
  • Heart murmurs
  • Enlargement of the heart (cardiomyopathy);
  • Damage to the heart, from high blood pressure or heart attack, for example
  • Blocked coronary arteries
  • Heart Failure
  • Congenital (present at birth) heart defects; and
  • Pericardial disease (the membrane that surrounds the heart)

Test preparation/pre-test guidelines: There is no special preparation for your echocardiogram.  Please wear loose-fitting clothing.  The gel is water soluble and should not stain your clothes.  If you are having your stress done on the same day as your echocardiogram, the pre-test guidelines for your stress supersede any specific echocardiogram guidelines.

Test process/How the test is done/ How the test is completed: Echocardiography is performed by our trained sonographer and Clinical Manager, Beth Lovett. The test will take 20-30 minutes. You will be asked to either unbutton your shirt or remove your shirt or blouse and put on a gown or a sheet to maintain your privacy. After lying on our echo table, the technician will apply a colorless gel to your chest that improves conduction and reception; it may also feel cold and moist. The transducer is moved across your chest to gather data and obtain multiple images of your heart. You may feel slight pressure or vibration surrounding the area being examined. You may be asked to move from your back and to the side so that Beth can take pictures of different areas of your heart. Beth may also ask you to breathe slowly or to hold your breath so that your heart may be seen more clearly. Throughout the test, an electrocardiogram, or ECG, which record's the heart's electrical activity, is performed to monitor the heartbeat and blood pressure is monitored. With Doppler echocardiograms, as the transducer moves over your heart, you will hear a "whooshing" sound, which is the amplified sound of your blood flowing through the chambers of your heart.

Transesophageal echocardiography requires that the transducer be inserted down the throat, through the esophagus and into the stomach. Because the esophagus is located close to the heart, and there are no internal structures to obstruct the view of the heart, clear images of the heart structures can be obtained without the interference of the lungs and chest. The transesophageal echocardiogram, or TEE, is an invasive diagnostic test conducted at the cardiac catheterization labs at either Denton Regional Medical Center or Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton. The TEE will be poerformed by a trained sonographer on staff at Denton Regional Medical Center or Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton. A sedative may be used.

Post-test guidelines:  There are no post-test restrictions following a standard echocardiogram.
For TEE, patients should observe the following restrictions:

  • Avoid driving for 24 hours if a sedative was administered; and
  • Avoid eating and drinking, for at least 2 hours after the test.

Test location: Your echocardiogram will be performed at our main office, located in Denton, Texas:    The Heart Center of North Texas
3304 Colorado Blvd.
Suite 101
Denton, TX 76210

HOSPITAL PRIVILEGES:   •  Denton Regional Medical Center   •  Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton
   •  Muenster Memorial Hospital   •  North Texas Medical Center

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