An echocardiogram is one of the first diagnostic tests performed when your symptoms suggest a heart problem. At Central Valley Cardiovascular Center, Ranjit Rajpal, MD, FACP, FACC, often performs echocardiograms to get sharp images of the heart, providing immediate results to start treatment quickly. If you have chest pain or shortness of breath, don’t wait to schedule an appointment. Use the online booking feature or call the office in Madera, California, today.

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What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram, also referred to as an echo test or sonogram, is a type of diagnostic imaging that uses ultrasound to create images of your heart.

Dr. Rajpal personally does most echocardiograms at Central Valley Cardiovascular Center. During the simple procedure, he uses a device called a transducer or probe. After placing the transducer against the skin above your heart, the device sends safe sound waves into your body.

The sound waves bounce off the tissues they encounter and return to the device. Then the transducer sends the information to a computer, which produces real-time images of your heart.

What does an echocardiogram show?

A standard echocardiogram shows details about your heart’s structure. A Doppler echocardiogram shows movement, revealing how well your heart works.

Your echo test provides information about:

  • Blood clots
  • Inflammation
  • Fluid build-up
  • Chamber size
  • Muscle thickness
  • Muscle damage
  • Blood vessel blockages
  • Valve movement
  • Blood flow through the heart

Echocardiograms also show the heart muscle’s pumping function, revealing its ability to send blood to your body, as well as its relaxing function, which allows the chambers to refill with blood.

When would I need an echocardiogram?

Dr. Rajpal does echocardiograms to determine the cause of symptoms such as a heart murmur, an erratic heartbeat, chest pains, and shortness of breath.

An echocardiogram gives Dr. Rajpal the information he needs to diagnose conditions such as:

  • Heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Inflamed pericardium
  • Fluid around the heart
  • Leaky heart valves (regurgitation)
  • Heart valve narrowing (stenosis)
  • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy)
  • Atrial fibrillation and other heart arrhythmias
  • Muscle damage due to a heart attack

If you already had a procedure like percutaneous coronary intervention or you take heart medications, Dr. Rajpal may perform an echocardiogram to determine the effectiveness of your treatment.

What should I expect during an echocardiogram?

After you relax on the exam table, Dr. Rajpal puts a small amount of ultrasound jelly on the transducer and places it against your skin. He moves the probe around and sometimes presses down to get the best image. Though you do feel the transducer, an echocardiogram never causes pain or discomfort.

Since Dr. Rajpal usually performs your echocardiogram, he can show you the images and talk with you about the results at the end of your procedure.

If you have questions about echocardiograms or need to schedule a procedure, call Central Valley Cardiovascular Center, or book online today.