Heart ultrasound provides allows physicians to see moving images of your heart to help evaluate heart health. The most common types of heart ultrasound are non-invasive and include:
An echocardiogram is a non-invasive (the skin is not pierced) procedure used to assess the heart's function and structures. During the procedure, a transducer (like a microphone) sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed on the chest at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the heart tissues, where the waves bounce or "echo" off of the heart structures. These sound waves are sent to a computer that can create moving images of the heart walls and valves.
Transesophageal echocardiography is also known as TEE, or heart scan with endoscopy.
TEE is used to evaluate the internal heart structures and path of blood flow in congenital (present at birth) heart defects. TEE is also used during heart surgery to evaluate the effects of surgical intervention to the heart, such as repair of congenital heart defects. In addition, TEE can be used to evaluate the valves of the heart to look for damage or infection.
TEE uses a small probe guided into the esophagus while a child is sedated to closely evaluate the heart and blood vessels within the chest.
The TEE transducer works the same as the one used in a regular echocardiogram. However, a clearer image can be obtained because the sound waves do not have to pass through skin, muscle, or bone tissue.
Certain conditions of the heart, such as mitral valve disorders, blood clots or masses inside the heart, dissection (tear) of the lining of the aorta (the artery which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the body), and implanted prosthetic (artificial) heart valves may be better visualized and assessed with TEE than with regular echocardiograms. TEE is often done to evaluate for blood clots in the heart prior to cardioversion or ablation procedures to correct abnormal heart rhythms.