An echocardiogram, or “echo”, is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create an image of the heart in real-time.
Sound waves are produced by a transducer, or “probe”, which the operator holds in their hand. These projected sound waves are transmitted through, or attenuated by, tissues in the body to varying degrees. These altered sound waves, or “echoes”, then return to the probe to create a computerized image based on the density of the tissues with which they came into contact.
The denser the tissue, the brighter the image, since most of the sound waves conducted will be reflected back to the probe. Another unique aspect of an echocardiogram is that it allows the cardiologist to evaluate the flow of blood through the various valves, and chambers of the heart in real-time.
These special features provide for a multi-faceted assessment of heart function and architecture that is unsurpassed at the present time.