Echocardiograms are one of the top-notch diagnostic tests the Heart & Vascular Center at Valley View offers to the community. In 2017 alone, the Heart & Vascular Center performed almost 2,000 echocardiograms.
An echocardiogram, or echo, is an ultrasound of the heart. A Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE) is the most common type of echocardiogram. A probe or transducer is placed on the chest of the patient and high frequency sound waves are used to provide a visual representation of the heart’s valves and chambers. The procedure is non-invasive and has no side effects.
There are also two other types of echocardiograms. The second type, Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) is a more invasive procedure that involves guiding a specialized probe or transducer into a patient’s esophagus to obtain images of the heart. A TEE procedure is often necessary when there is a need to see the heart and valves in more detail than a transthoracic echo can provide. Patients are given sedation medications during this procedure.
The third type of echocardiogram, a Stress Echocardiogram, shows how well the heart is working to pump blood into the body during or after exercise. This test is most often used to detect if there is a decrease in blood flow to the heart from a narrowing in the coronary arteries.
An echocardiogram can be performed for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:
• Evaluating the overall structure and function (pumping strength) of the heart
• Determining the presence of fluid around the heart or problems with the outer lining of the heart (pericardium)
• Assessing for valvular heart disease and to monitor the progression of valve disease over time
• As a precursor to obtain surgical clearance
The Heart & Vascular Center at Valley View is the only institution on Colorado’s Western Slope to be accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) in all three types of echocardiograms: Transthoracic (TTE), Transesophageal (TEE) and Stress Echocardiogram. IAC Accreditation means that the Heart & Vascular Center at Valley View adheres to a distinguished national standard of imaging that ensures superior quality and reporting for our patients.
Interested in learning more about echocardiograms? Contact the Heart & Vascular Center at Valley View at 970.384.7290.