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Cardiology Specialists of Orange County

Board Certified in Cardiovascular Diseases & Interventional Cardiology located in Santa Ana, CA; Newport Beach, CA; & Irvine, CA

An echocardiogram is a specialized ultrasound of your heart that can reveal details of any heart conditions or functional abnormalities. If you have cardiac disease symptoms, Cardiology Specialists of Orange County has state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, including several types of echocardiography. The practice has locations in Santa Ana, Irvine, and Newport Beach, California, with the Santa Ana office offering additional advanced diagnostic services. Find out more about echocardiograms and how they can help with your heart condition by calling the office closest to you or booking an appointment online today.

Echocardiogram Q & A

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram or diagnostic cardiac ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to create detailed images of your heart that your provider can view on a monitor.

When you have an echocardiogram, a specially trained technician uses a transducer (a type of probe) to transmit the sound waves through your skin and muscle to your heart. The sound is far too high pitched for you to hear, and you can't feel it either.

Sound waves bounce off your heart at different frequencies, which the transducer picks up and relays to the computer system. The software then translates these echoes into information that produces images of the valves, blood vessels, and chambers that make up your heart.

Why would I need an echocardiogram?

You might need an echocardiogram if you have symptoms of a possible heart issue. The images the echocardiogram produces help your provider at Cardiology Specialists of Orange County to diagnose cardiac conditions, revealing useful information about:

  • Your heart's size and shape
  • How thick the muscular walls are
  • Your heart's pumping function
  • The health of your heart's valves
  • Problems with the lining of your heart
  • Abnormalities in the blood vessels

The echocardiogram also shows up problems like blood clots inside your heart, holes between the chambers, and any tumors or growths.

Are there different types of echocardiograms?

There are several different echocardiogram options, including:

Transthoracic echocardiogram

A transthoracic echocardiogram is an echocardiogram you're most likely to have for a routine exam. The technician places the transducer directly on your chest, so it's entirely non-invasive.

Transesophageal echocardiogram

If there's scarring or too much fatty tissue on your chest, a transthoracic echocardiogram might not get a clear enough view of your heart. In this case, a transesophageal echocardiogram might be necessary. 

This procedure involves your provider passing the transducer down your throat. A transesophageal echocardiogram offers clearer images as the probe can get very close to your heart.

Stress echocardiogram

The stress echocardiogram creates images of your heart while it's pumping hard. It can be useful for diagnosing cardiac symptoms not visible in a resting echocardiogram. To perform the test, you either increase your heart rate on a treadmill or take medication that imitates the effects of exercise on your heart.

If you have any questions about echocardiography or what happens during your procedure, call Cardiology Specialists of Orange County or schedule an appointment online today.