What is an Echocardiogram?


A cardiologist performs a number of non-invasive procedures in order to establish a comprehensive diagnostic profile on the nature and severity of a patient’s heart condition. One of the tools he or she uses is an echocardiogram. Find out what an echocardiogram is and how it can help in diagnosing a heart condition below:

What can an echocardiogram do?
An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to produce an image of a patient’s heart in motion. This not only produces images of the heart chambers and valves, but can also depict the size of the heart and how large the various chambers are in relation to each other. An echocardiogram can also determine the thickness of the muscular walls and how well the heart muscle is functioning. In addition, an echocardiogram can be used to determine:

  • How well the heart valves open and close during each contraction and relaxation of the heart chambers
  • The uniformity of movement of the heart muscle during each contraction/relaxation cycle
  • An estimate of the blood pressure within the lungs

How is an echocardiogram performed?
An echocardiogram is performed by placing a transducer over the heart to emit waves of sound that are reflected back in an echo. The transducer is coated in a gel before being placed on the skin to help facilitate the transmission of the sound waves through the skin and chest wall. During the test, electrodes are also placed on the chest in order to monitor the patient’s heart beat. As the transducer moves over the chest in a systematic sequence, the sound waves bounce back as echoes which are translated into visual images by a computerized video monitor, creating a permanent record of the motions of the heart.

The physicians and nurses with Regional Medical Center of San Jose use only the most advanced technological devices to help diagnose and treat patients. Learn more about our cardiovascular services by contacting us at (408) 259-4000 today.