Using ultrasound (very high-frequency sound waves), cardiologists can produce images of the heart and see how it is functioning.
During an ultrasound exam, a small, hand-held device called a transducer is placed on the skin. The transducer produces very high-frequency sound waves reflected off of internal organs and tissue. The same transducer receives the reflected sound waves and sends them to a computer, which uses them to generate accurate images on a computer screen of the internal structures.
When used to examine the heart, ultrasound can create images that help the cardiologist learn about the size, shape and function of the heart muscle, how heart valves are functioning and how well blood is flowing through the heart.
The Images Produced are Called Echocardiograms
One advantage of echocardiograms is that they are "live action" moving images on a computer screen, so they are useful for evaluating heart function as well as shape.
There are different types of echocardiograms:
Transthoracic Echocardiogram: This exam provides views of the heart structure obtained by placing the transducer on the patient's chest.
Doppler Echocardiogram: Used to evaluate blood flow through heart chambers, valves and blood vessels.
Transesophageal Echocardiogram: During this procedure, a small probe containing a transducer is passed down the esophagus to provide closer pictures of the heart. The advantage of this positioning is that the sound waves are not interfered with by the lungs or chest bones, producing a clearer image of the heart.
For more information about heart treatment options or to schedule an appointment, please call the Phoebe Heart and Vascular Center at (229) 312-4438.