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Echocardiogram

Why It Is Done continued...

A transthoracic echocardiogram may also be used to:

  • Look for congenital heart defects or to check the effectiveness of previous surgery to repair a congenital heart defect.
  • 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 (pericardial effusion camera.gif).
  • Look for a thickening of the lining (pericardium) around the heart.

Stress echocardiogram

A stress echo may be done to:

  • Identify and monitor reduced blood flow to heart muscle (ischemia). This is usually more apparent after some form of stress, such as exercise or medicine.

Doppler echocardiogram

A Doppler echocardiogram can be done during a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE), a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), or a stress echocardiogram to:

  • Measure the speed at which blood travels through the heart.
  • Measure the blood pressure and speed of blood flow through the heart valves.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) may be done to:

  • Monitor heart function during surgery.
  • Check how well an artificial heart valve works.
  • Look for masses or blood clots in the upper left chamber (left atrium) of the heart.
  • Identify abnormal blood flow between the chambers of the heart (cardiac shunt).
  • Help find out if you have endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart's valves or its inner lining (endocardium).
  • Guide procedures done during cardiac catheterization.
  • Help find out if you have a tear in the aorta (aortic dissection).

How To Prepare

Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) and Doppler echocardiogram

You do not need any special preparation for a transthoracic or Doppler echocardiogram.

Stress echocardiogram

Do not eat heavily for a few hours before a stress echo to help prevent nausea. You may feel nauseated if you exercise with a full stomach or from the injection of dobutamine.

Wear flat, comfortable shoes (no bedroom slippers or sandals) and loose, lightweight shorts or sweatpants for an exercise stress echo.

Ask your doctor whether you should take your regular medicines as usual. Tell your doctor if you take insulin.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Do not eat or drink for at least 6 hours before the TEE.

If you have dentures or dental prostheses, you may need to remove them before the test.

If you have medical problems involving the throat, esophagus, or stomach, tell your doctor before getting this test.

Before a TEE, you will be given a sedative. You will not be able to drive for at least 12 hours after the procedure. Be sure to make arrangements in advance for someone to pick you up after the test.

Before an echocardiogram, you may be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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