This is a test that uses sound waves to create moving pictures of the heart. These images are used to diagnose problems with heart valve function, heart chamber sizes and movement, blood flow and to detect abnormal masses and blood clots.
There are several types of echos that can be performed. The most common is a transthoracic, or an echo that is done with a scanner on the chest wall. There is also a transesophogeal echo that is done with sedation as a scope is placed in the esophagus to obtain pictures of the heart. The last type of echo is a stress echo and is performed while “stress” is placed on the heart by either exercise or medication that is injected into the bloodstream.