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Echocardiography Laboratory Services

Transthoracic Echocardiography

This study is an ultrasound examination of the heart using a transducer on the patient's chest. We use color images to identify the flow of blood through the heart. Spectral waveforms measure the speed of the blood flow through the heart. When we measure the speed of the flow, you may also hear the sound made by the blood flow.

Transesophageal Echocardiography

The transesophageal echo is done usually as a follow-up examination for certain cardiac rhythms or questions as a result of the transthoracic study.

This study is performed by a cardiologist with a sonographer assisting. Patients are given medication to relax them. The cardiologist inserts a gastric tube into the patient's esophagus to look at the heart. This procedure allows the cardiologist to see pictures of the heart that cannot be clearly seen from the chest wall.

For this study, the patient must not eat for at least six hours prior to the exam. If this exam is done as an outpatient, it is recommended that someone bring the patient to the lab and drive the patient home because of the medications given.

Stress Echocardiography

The stress echo is performed by obtaining cardiac images from the chest wall prior to the patient walking on a treadmill and again immediately after the patient reaches a target heart rate level. This test provides information about the effect of exercise on the patient's heart.

For this study, the patient should dress in comfortable walking shoes and clothing. It is preferred that the patient not eat for at least two hours prior to the test.

Pharmacological Stress Echocardiography

Pharmacological stress echo is for those patients who cannot exercise on a treadmill.

This exam is performed in four segments. The first segment is done by obtaining resting images of the heart from four different views. Medication is started to elevate the heart rate. The second segment obtains a repeat of the previous images during this low dose of medication. When the medication has increased the heart rate to a target rate, the third segment is obtained by repeating the previous images. When the heart returns to the starting rate, another repeat of the previous images is obtained and the study is complete. Each group of images is evaluated for changes in the heart action during the four segments of study.

The patient must not eat for at least two hours prior to this exam.

Fetal Echocardiology


A fetal echocardiogram is one of the specialized diagnostic tools available through NMMC's Heart and Vascular Institute. The ultrasound test helps evaluate the heart and any cardiac abnormalities in the unborn baby. Cardiac defects are among the most common birth defects. Their early diagnosis provides an opportunity to plan for care and treatment of the fetus as well as when it is born. We have a large team of specialized sonographers and physicians that work closely with Dr. Justin Brewer, NMMC's Maternal Fetal Medicine physician.


Pediatric Echocardiography

NMMC's Pediatric Echocardiography program uses state of the art 2D and 3D imaging to help our specialists determine the best course of treatment for a child. Specialized cardiac diagnostic services include the evaluation and treatment of heart murmurs, chest pain, fainting, shortness of breath and palpitation. Our team of specialized sonographers and physicians work closely together to better serve our community.