Drexel's board-certified echocardiologists use echocardiography (EKG), a non-invasive procedure, to create moving images of the heart as it beats. These images provide important and detailed information about the heart's structure and function to help our physicians determine the cause of cardiac symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath, or reveal structural problems such as leaking or stiffened heart valves. Echocardiographs can also help determine the best location for pacemaker leads.
During an echocardiograph (EKG), sound waves are beamed into the chest using a small wand (transducer). These sound waves bounce off of the cardiac structures, producing an "echo" that is processed by a computer to create images of the heart walls and valves. There is no ionizing radiation used during these procedures and patients experience no pain or discomfort.
Types of Echocardiography (EKG) Studies
During transthoracic echocardiography, a wand-like device is used to painlessly beam sound waves into the chest.
Stress echocardiography (stress test)
Stress echocardiography combines traditional stress testing with a transthoracic echo study. The patient exercises on a treadmill to "stress" the heart, and echo imaging is used to demonstrate the effect of exercise on the heart. This test can show whether the coronary arteries have been narrowed by plaque or fatty deposits. If patients are unable to exercise, a drug is given to accelerate the heart, simulating the effects of exercise. If you need to have a stress test, it is important to understand what you can expect and how to prepare.
Learn more about stress tests.
Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)
To perform this study, a tiny camera is passed down the throat and into the esophagus until it reaches the level of the heart. This echo test produces very high quality images because sound waves do not need to pass through other dense tissues, such as the lungs and chest wall. Physicians generally use transesophageal echocardiography to diagnose cardiac structural abnormalities, such as those affecting the heart valves, heart chambers or blood vessels. There are important instructions that a patient needs to follow prior to the study.
Learn more about transesophageal echocardiography.