What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram, also known as an echo, is a test that uses sound waves to create moving pictures of your heart and its valves. It helps your doctor see how your heart is working and find out if you have any heart diseases.

Why Have an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram can help to diagnose a number of heart conditions, including but not limited to valve problems, high blood pressure, an enlarged heart, fluid around the heart, and heart muscle diseases. It can also give your doctor an idea of how well certain treatments are working.

Types of Echocardiograms

There are several types of echocardiograms, including transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE), transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), dobutamine echocardiogram (DEE), and stress echocardiogram (SE).
  • A TTE is the most common type of echocardiogram and is done with a device called a transducer, which is held against the chest wall. This type of test is used to assess the structure of the heart and its function.
  • A TEE is an echocardiogram that is done using a device placed in the esophagus. It helps to identify problems with the heart valves and walls which might not be visible in a TTE.
  • A DEE is a test that is done after the patient has been injected with a medication called a dobutamine. This test helps to assess how the heart working when it is under stress, as well as to measure its pumping function.
  • A SE is an echocardiogram that is done after the patient has been put through a stress test. This type of test helps to measure how well the heart is functioning under physical or chemical stress.


Before the test, you should tell your doctor if you have any allergies, if you have had any recent injuries or surgeries, and if you are taking any medications. You will also need to wear loose, comfortable clothing, remove all jewelry, and take any prescribed medications.


During the test, you will lie down on an examination table and the technician will place the transducer against your chest. The transducer will transmit sound waves that will create a moving image of your heart on a monitor.


An echocardiogram is generally considered to be a safe, non-invasive test with little to no risks. The sound waves used during the test have no known side effects.


An echocardiogram is an important tool for diagnosing and monitoring heart conditions. It is a safe, non-invasive test that can help your doctor to determine the structure and functioning of your heart. By using sound waves, this test can help provide valuable information for your doctor to use in making a diagnosis and treatment plan.