An echocardiogram is a non-invasive painless test that allows cardiologists to see if your heart is functioning normally or if it is enlarged, weakened or has a damaged valve.
How is the test performed?
Ultrasound waves are directed through the chest to the heart. The echoes of the sound waves are processed and used to produce images of the heart.
Additionally, a trans-esophogeal echocardiogram (TEE) may be performed by having the patient swallow the ultrasound probe (following numbing medication to the throat and appropriate sedation). The TEE provides close-up images of the heart from the esophagus.
This technique is an excellent way to search for blood clots in the atria. Your physician may request that you have a TEE prior to an electrical cardioversion or catheter ablation. Most patients tolerate this test quite well.