An echocardiogram (echo) is a noninvasive procedure in which sound waves allow the physician to evaluate the heart’s function and structure. Echocardiography can help detect many heart conditions, including coronary heart disease, aortic aneurysms, and enlargement of the heart (cardiomyopathy). The examination is performed in a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital. With the patient lying on an exam table, a sonographer applies warmed gel to the patient’s bare chest and moves a handheld transducer across the skin to produce signals that a computer translates to images. The test takes 30 to 45 minutes. The simplest type of echo is the M-mode, but 2-D, 3-D, Dopple, or color Doppler techniques can be used. A Doppler assesses blood flow through heart chambers and valves and produces a distinctive whooshing sound. An exercise (stress) echocardiography is performed with the patient on a stationary bicycle to assess limits for safe exercise. Patients too weak for exercise may receive an injection of a medication that raises their heart rate to mimic exercise. Another procedure, called transesophageal echo (TEE), is performed in a special procedure room or during surgery by inserting a very small transducer down the throat to behind the heart to obtain a clearer image.
At UAB, you will receive expert, personalized primary cardiology services from our General Cardiology clinics both on campus and at our suburban center at Acton Road just off I-459. Specialists from UAB’s world-renowned team of cardiologists offer you the best evidence-based care for coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, rhythm disturbances, diseased valves, and other heart and vessel conditions. And when you visit our clinics, you can expect friendly, personalized care backed by UAB’s sophisticated facilities and equipment.
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