Echocardiography is an area of diagnostic imaging that focuses on the heart. Echocardiograms are diagnostic tests that create detailed, moving pictures of your heart in action. An “echo” test is helpful in pinpointing areas of the heart muscle that aren’t contracting well because of poor blood flow or injury from a previous heart attack. Doctors order echocardiograms to examine the heart’s structure and see how well the heart is functioning.
The procedure uses sound waves to create these images, much like an ultrasound. In fact, echos are sometimes referred to as heart ultrasounds or diagnostic cardiac ultrasounds.
Echocardiograms are simple outpatient procedures that require no injections or incisions and cause no discomfort. These imaging tools provide much more detail than a plain x-ray image and involve no radiation exposure. Echocardiograms can provide many different types of information. For example:
Echocardiograms provide doctors with the following information:
Physicians order echos when they are concerned with a patient’s heart function and health. An echocardiogram may be ordered if the patient:
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