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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.
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.