Echocardiogram (Transthoracic / Trans-esophageal)

What is Echocardiogram?

Echocardiography is a technique that visualises the heart using ultrasound waves. In most situations, the ultrasound probe is put onto the chest of patient (transthoracic) to get these images. A trans-esophageal echocardiogram is a procedure that consists of insertion of a long, thin and flexible probe into the mouth and down the esophagus (food tube). In the latter situation, the echocardiographic images allow the doctor to take a closer and clearer look at the valves of the heart and its chambers without interference from the chest wall.

Why is an Echocardiogram required?

Doctors usually perform a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) to evaluate a patient with symptoms related to different heart structures. For instance, the pump function of the heart, the valve condition, as well as the size of the heart chambers can be assessed with an echocardiogram.

Occasionally, a cardiologist might perform a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) to evaluate stroke or transient ischemic attack as a result of blood clots from the heart chamber. It is also useful to assess the success of previous heart procedures including valve replacements and bypass surgeries, as well as other heart conditions including congenital heart diseases.

Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) detects blood clots, tumours and abnormal masses in the heart, which may not be seen properly using standard echocardiographic images. It can also detect particular valve problems including infected heart valves.

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