Echocardiogram

Get 3D images of your beating heart during an echocardiogram, or echo test, at Montage Health. This exam uses gentle sound waves to show the heart’s movement, valves, and blood flow in detail.

Types of echocardiography

You may benefit from:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) – Sends sound waves through your rib cage to your heart
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) – Sends sound waves across your esophagus (food pipe) to your heart
  • Stress test with echocardiography – Shows your heart as you exercise

Transthoracic echocardiogram

Most echocardiograms are transthoracic, which means “across your chest.” A doctor may order this test if you have signs or symptoms of a heart condition.

What to expect from TTE

For a transthoracic echocardiogram, you’ll lie on your back on a table. A technologist will apply a clear gel to the skin on your chest and then glide a small, handheld device over it. The wand sends out sound waves to make an image of your heart. You may need to lie on your side for a short time to get pictures from several angles.

After the test

You can return to your daily activities right after the test.

Accredited care

Expect top-quality care during your echocardiogram. Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula is accredited in adult transthoracic echocardiography by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission. This recognition means you benefit from:

  • Advanced technology and tools that ensure accurate results
  • Highly trained technologists who perform your test and expert doctors who oversee it
  • Setting that supports your safety, comfort, and privacy

Transesophageal echocardiogram

Transesophageal means “across your esophagus.” This type of echocardiogram looks at the back side of your heart. Your doctor may order it if a transthoracic echocardiogram can’t get clear images because your chest has thick muscle or fat, or if you have a lung condition, like emphysema.

What to expect from TEE

Before a transesophageal echocardiogram, a health professional will spray anesthetic on your throat to numb it and prevent pain. You may also receive a sedative (medicine to relax you).

Then, you’ll swallow a grape-sized device that transmits sound waves. It’s attached to the end of a long, flexible tube that a technologist can gently move to get pictures of your heart from different angles.

Recovery

To stay as safe and comfortable as possible, follow the instructions you receive for recovering after transthoracic echocardiography. You may need to:

  • Avoid driving for at least 12 hours if you received sedation
  • Wait two hours before eating or drinking anything
  • Avoid hot foods or beverages for 24 hours
  • Use lozenges (cough drops) to soothe your throat if it hurts

TEE during heart surgery

If you have a procedure to repair or replace your mitral valve, your surgeon may use TEE to guide treatment or see how well surgery worked. Learn more about cardiac surgery and heart valve care.

How to make an appointment

You’ll need a referral from your doctor or a cardiologist to get care at Tyler Heart Institute. Talk to your primary care provider, search for a cardiologist, or contact us at (831) 625-4934.

Getting test results

If you have an online MyChart account, you’ll likely see your test results in the patient portal within 24 hours. Your doctor will call to explain them and discuss next steps. Wait until you talk to your doctor before trying to understand what they mean.

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