An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen. This test is used to look at how blood flows through the heart chambers, heart valves, and blood vessels. The ultrasound computer then measures the direction and speed of the blood flowing through your heart and blood vessels.
Echoes are done to:
+ Look for the cause of abnormal heart sounds (murmurs or clicks), an enlarged heart, unexplained chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, or irregular heartbeats.
+ Check the thickness and movement of the heart wall.
+ Look at the heart valves and check how well they work.
+ See how well an artificial heart valve is working.
+ Measure the size and shape of the heart’s chambers.
+ Check the ability of your heart chambers to pump blood (cardiac performance), calculate how much blood your heart is pumping during each heartbeat (ejection fraction).
+ Detect a disease that affects the heart muscle and the way it pumps, such as cardiomyopathy.
+ Look for blood clots and tumors inside the heart.
+ Look for congenital heart defects or to check the effectiveness of previous surgery to repair a congenital heart defect.
+ Check how well your heart works after a heart attack.
+ Identify the specific cause of heart failure.
+ Look for a collection of fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion)
+ Look for a thickening of the lining (pericardium) around the heart