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Echocardiography //

An echocardiogram, often referred to as a cardiac echo or simply an echo, is a sonogram of the heart.

Echocardiography uses standard two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and Doppler ultrasound to create images of the heart.  It employs a similar machine to those used to look at growing babies in pregnant women.

Most echocardiography is performed at rest with an ultrasound probe placed on the chest wall.  This is known as a transthoracic echocardiogram or TTE.

Click here for the BHF information video.

In some circumstances it can be useful to look at how the heart works when it is under load, or working hard. This can be done using exercise (Exercise Echocardiography) or more commonly by using an injection of a medication to simulate exercise (Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram).

A further special type of echocardiogram is a Transoesophageal Echocardiogram (TOE).  This involves an ultrasound probe on a narrow tube that can be passed down the food pipe (or oesophagus) in a similar fashion to having an endoscopy.  This allows a closer examination of the heart valves. 

Click here for the BHF information video.