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    An echocardiogram is safe, because the test uses only sound waves to evaluate your heart. These high-frequency sound waves have not been shown to have any harmful effects.

    If contrast material is used, there is a slight risk of having an allergic reaction. Most reactions can be controlled using medicine.

    Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) and Doppler echocardiogram

    There are no known risks from a transthoracic or Doppler echocardiogram. During a transthoracic echo, the technician may have to press hard on your chest with the transducer. Tell the technician if you feel any pain or discomfort.

    Stress echocardiogram

    A stress echocardiogram can cause dizziness, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, nausea, irregular heartbeats, and heart attack.

    Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

    A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) can sometimes cause:

    • Nausea.
    • Mouth and throat discomfort.
    • Minor bleeding.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Slow or abnormal heartbeats.

    Insertion of the probe may tear or puncture your esophagus. This is rare.

    This test is not recommended if you have:

    • Recently had radiation treatment to your neck or chest.
    • Serious problems with your esophagus, such as a very narrow esophagus, dilated (engorged) veins in the esophagus that could rupture and bleed (esophageal varices), or severe arthritis of your neck.
    • Trouble swallowing.
    • A bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia.


    An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen.

    Results are usually available within one day. If the test is done by a cardiologist, the results may be available immediately after the test.


    The heart chambers and walls of the heart are of normal size and thickness, and they move normally.

    Heart valves are working normally, with no leaks or narrowing. There is no sign of infection.

    The amount of blood pumped from the left ventricle with each heartbeat (ejection fraction) is normal.

    There is no excess fluid in the sac surrounding the heart, and the lining around the heart is not thickened.

    There are no tumors and blood clots in the heart chambers.


    Heart chambers are too big. The walls of the heart are thicker or thinner than normal. A thin heart wall may mean poor blood flow to the heart muscle or an old heart attack. A thin, bulging area of the heart wall may indicate a bulge in the ventricle (ventricular aneurysm). The heart muscle walls do not move normally because of a decreased blood supply from narrowed coronary arteries.

    One or more heart valves do not open or close properly (are leaking) or do not look normal. Signs of infection are present.

    The amount of blood pumped from the left ventricle with each heartbeat (ejection fraction) is lower than normal.

    There is fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion). The lining around the heart is too thick.

    A tumor or blood clot may be found in the heart.

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    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 13, 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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