Echocardiography (Trans-Thoracic and Trans-Esophageal Echocardiography)
An echocardiogram is a diagnostic procedure that uses ultrasound waves to produce a sonogram of the heart. Physicians use the images to measure cardiac output, as well as the size and shape of the heart and how well blood is flowing through the heartís valves and chambers. A standard echocardiogram is known as a trans-thoracic echocardiogram, or TTE. This test is non-invasive and fast, and imaging is acquired externally through a probe placed on the chest wall.
In some cases, a physician will order an alternative type of echocardiogram known as a trans-esophageal echocardiogram, or TEE. An ultrasound probe is placed into the patientís esophagus Ė often after administration of a numbing agent or while under conscious sedation. The probe is positioned behind the heart, where it produces ultrasound views of the chambers and valves not seen on traditional echocardiograms.