An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that allows the physician to view the movement of the muscle tissue of the heart and the valves. The echocardiogram is also capable of detecting the blood flow and pressures in the body. 


The different types of echocardiograms are:


Transthoracic echocardiogram. This is the most common type. Views of the heart are obtained by moving the probe to different locations on the chest or abdominal wall.


Stress echocardiogram. During this test, an echocardiogram is done both before and after the heart is stressed by having you exercise. Click here for more information.


Doppler echocardiogram. This test is used to look at how blood flows through the heart chambers, heart valves, and blood vessels. The ultrasound computer then measures the direction and speed of the blood flowing through the heart and blood vessels.


Transesophageal echocardiogram. This test is performed at the hospital. For this test, the probe is passed down the esophagus. This test shows clearer pictures of the heart, because the probe is located closer to the heart and because the lungs and bones of the chest wall do not block the sound waves produced by the probe. A sedative is given to the patient and an anesthetic applied to the throat to make the patient comfortable during this test.