An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This commonly used test allows your doctor to see how your heart is beating and pumping blood. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify various abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves.
Pediatric echocardiography. Gritman Medical Center also offers pediatric echocardiography, which has become the primary tool in the diagnosis and assessment of congenital and acquired heart disease in infants, children, and adolescents.
Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram if he or she suspects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart or your heart's ability to pump. An echocardiogram can also be used to detect congenital heart defects in unborn babies. Depending on what information your doctor needs, you may have one of the following kinds of echocardiograms:
There are few risks involved in a standard transthoracic echocardiogram. You may feel some discomfort similar to pulling off an adhesive bandage when the technician removes the electrodes placed on your chest during the procedure. During a stress echocardiogram, exercise or medication — not the echocardiogram itself — may temporarily cause an irregular heartbeat. Serious complications, such as a heart attack, are rare.
No special preparations are necessary for a standard transthoracic echocardiogram. Your doctor will ask you not to eat for a few hours beforehand if you're having a stress echocardiogram. If you'll be walking on a treadmill during a stress echocardiogram, wear comfortable shoes.