Doctor taking blood pressure of patient.


Also known as: Heart Scan, EKG, Stress Test

When it comes to your heart health, we believe in comprehensive and effective screening methods. These diagnostic procedures, like echocardiography, allow our doctors to more accurately diagnose and better treat cardiovascular conditions.

Echocardiography is the use of ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) to produce detailed images of the heart’s valve and chambers. The sound waves are produced by a transducer and “echoed” by the heart as it functions. Through a monitor, your doctor can evaluate how the heart is pumping blood in real-time.

Echocardiography carries little to no risks. In the case of a transesophageal echocardiogram, the endoscope used to image the heart may pose a slight risk of esophageal irritation and discomfort.

There are different types of echocardiograms, each with their own procedural steps.  These include:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram – This exam is the most common. It is non-invasive and uses an external transducer to emit ultrasound waves through the chest. It requires no preparation and is administered in about a half hour. 
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram – This exam uses a small endoscope (thin tube) with a built-in sound wave transducer. The endoscope is inserted into your chest via the mouth. The transducer then emits ultrasound waves from inside your body, helping image the heart in more detail. In order to maintain patient comfort, sedatives and numbing agents are provided. If your doctor recommends a transesophageal echo, you will also be asked not to eat for at least six hours before the procedure. 
  • Stress echocardiogram – This test is the same as a transthoracic echocardiogram, but it administered after elevating your heart rate, either through exercises or medication. It helps doctors evaluate how your heart functions when it is stressed. 
  • 3-D echocardiogram – Rather than a flat image of the heart, this type of echocardiogram provides a 3-D image that shows the full anatomy of the beating heart, the working valves and the blood flow. Like a CT scan, the 3-D image also can be “sliced” to show multiple cross sections of the interior anatomy of the heart. This type of echocardiogram can be used both to diagnose heart conditions and defects, and to plan surgical procedures.

Doctors Specializing in Echocardiogram

At Providence, you'll have access to a vast network of dedicated and compassionate providers who offer personalized care by focusing on treatment, prevention and health education.