Echocardiography, sometimes referred to as cardiac ultrasound, provides vast amounts of information to your doctor about your heart’s structure and function.  Your doctor may order an echo of your heart to look for heart disease or monitor your progress with medication or other treatments.

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Echocardiogram Q&A

What are the Types of Echocardiograms?

There are different types of echocardiograms that a doctor can order, depending on the circumstances of your situation.

Transthoracic Echocardiogram:  This is the standard test.  It’s like an x-ray but with no radiation.  After applying electrodes to your body, the cardiac sonographer will use a transducer on your chest to send high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) that bounce off your heart to create images and sounds.  Changes in the sound waves, called Doppler signals, can show the direction and speed of blood moving through your heart.  This test takes about 40 minutes to complete and afterward you can go about your day just like normal.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE):  For this test, the transducer goes down your throat and into your esophagus, the swallowing tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.  Because it’s closer to your heart, it can get a clearer picture.  For a TEE, you’ll be given a mild sedative to help you relax, which wears off about an hour after the test is complete.  The test takes about 10 to 30 minutes and then nurses monitor you for an additional 20 to 30 minutes afterward.  Due to the sedative, you may still experience dizziness or drowsiness, so someone else should drive you home.

Stress Echocardiogram:  You have this test while exercising on a treadmill.  It shows the motion of your heart’s walls and pumping action when it’s working hard.  It can also show a lack of blood flow that might not appear on other heart tests.  For this procedure, a cardiac sonographer will attach EKG electrodes to your chest.  They’ll chart your heart activity and take your vital signs.  The sonographer will start with a transthoracic echocardiogram, after which you’ll get on the treadmill to start exercising.  The medical team will slowly raise the intensity while monitoring your heart and asking you about any symptoms.  The whole appointment takes about an hour, but the treadmill portion is only about 15 minutes.

What do Echocardiogram Results Show?

An echocardiogram can help your doctor diagnose several kinds of heart problems, including:

  • An enlarged heart or thick ventricles
  • Weakened heart muscles
  • Problems with your heart valves
  • Heart defects you’ve had since birth
  • Blood clots or tumors

Where Does St. Louis Heart and Vascular Offer Echocardiograms?

St. Louis Heart and Vascular offers echocardiograms at the following locations:

  • Christian Hospital / North County
  • Granite City
  • Bridgeton
  • Des Peres Hospital


Call us today at (314) 741-0911 to make an appointment!