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An echocardiogram uses sound waves (called ultrasound) to look at the size, shape, and motion of the heart.
The test shows:
- Four chambers of the heart
- Heart valves and the walls of the heart
- Blood vessels entering and leaving the heart
- The sac that surrounds the heart
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In addition to this standard test, there are specialized echocardiograms:
- Contrast echocardiogram—A solution is injected into the vein and can be seen in the heart.
- Stress echocardiogram—This records the heart's activity during a cardiac stress test .
- Echocardiogram with Doppler ultrasound —This helps your doctor assess blood flow.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram —To provide clear images of the heart, the ultrasound device is put down your throat....
An echocardiogram may be used to:
- Evaluate a heart murmur
- Diagnose valve conditions
- Find changes in the heart's structure
- Assess motion of the chamber walls and damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack
- Assess how different parts of the heart work in people with chronic heart disease
- Determine if fluid is collecting around the heart
- Identify growths in the heart
- Assess and monitor congenital defects
- Test blood flow through the heart
- Assess heart or major blood vessel damage caused by trauma
- Test heart function and diagnose heart and lungs problems in very ill patients
- Assess chest pain
- Look for blood clots within heart chambers
Call Your Doctor
After the test, call your doctor if you have worsening heart-related symptoms.