When you experience chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, or other symptoms of a heart problem, an echocardiogram is one of the first diagnostic tests you will receive. At Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute in The Woodlands, Texas, Laura Fernandes, MD, FACC, performs echocardiograms in the office, producing high-quality images that allow quick diagnosis and treatment for your symptoms. To schedule an appointment, call the office or book online today.
An echocardiogram creates detailed images of your heart and blood vessels using ultrasound, or high-frequency sound waves.
To perform an echocardiogram, Dr. Fernandes uses a device called a transducer, which sends out the sound waves. The sound waves go safely into your body, where they bounce off internal structures such as organs and blood vessels and return to the transducer.
The transducer transmits the information to a computer, which translates the sound waves into images. An echocardiogram reveals all the details of your heart, including its size and shape, muscle thickness, valve function, and blood vessels.
Dr. Fernandes may perform your echocardiogram using Doppler ultrasound. This type of ultrasound shows the speed and direction of blood as it flows through the heart.
Dr. Fernandes performs an echocardiogram to diagnose the cause of heart-related symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, chest pressure, and dizziness.
An echocardiogram can reveal a wide range of heart problems, including:
Dr. Fernandes may also use an echocardiogram to check for tissue damage following a heart attack.
You may have one of the following:
When performing a transthoracic echocardiogram, Dr. Fernandes first places gel on your chest. The gel helps the sound waves go through your skin.
Then she places the transducer against your chest and moves it back and forth above your heart. She may ask you to breathe or move a certain way to capture the best images.
Though a transesophageal echocardiogram is more invasive than a transthoracic echocardiogram, it produces a better image because the sound waves don’t go through your skin.
To do the procedure, Dr. Fernandes numbs your throat and then guides a narrow transducer down your esophagus, placing it next to your heart.
Dr. Fernandes may combine an exercise stress test with an echocardiogram. You have a routine echocardiogram before your stress test, then a second echocardiogram after you finish.
If you have symptoms of a heart problem and may need diagnostic testing such as an echocardiogram, call Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute or book an appointment online today.