THMG Specialties

The doctors at Texas Heart Medical Group are experts in their fields. Our specialties are broad and comprehensive, covering every aspect of heart health from prevention to surgical treatment.

Photograph of Texas Heart-related specialty

Echocardiogram

ECHOCARDIOGRAM

What is it?
An echocardiogram (often called “echo”) is a graphic outline of the heart’s movement. During an echocardiogram test, high frequency sound waves (from a hand-held wand placed on your chest) provide pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers and helps the sonographer evaluate the pumping action of the heart. Echo is combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart’s valves.

What do I do?
● Eat and drink as you normally would on the day of the test
● Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor
● You should feel no major discomfort during the test. You may feel a coolness from the gel on the transducer and a slight pressure of the transducer on your chest

What will happen?
● You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up and put on a gown.
● The cardiac sonographer will place three electrodes on your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph monitor (EKG) that charts your heart’s electrical activity.
● The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table. The sonographer will place a transducer on several areas of your chest. The transducer will have a small amount of gel on the end, which will not harm your skin. The gel helps produce clearer pictures.
● Sounds are part of the Doppler signal. You may or may not hear the sounds during the test.
● You may be asked to change positions several times during the exam in order for the sonographer to take pictures of different areas of your heart. You may also be asked to hold your breath at times.

How long does it take?
The test will take about forty (40) minutes. After the test, the sonographer will give you further instructions.

TRANSESOPHAGEAL ECHOCARDIOGRAM (TEE)

What is it?
The Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE) is a test used to assess cardiac structure and function. In addition, a TEE can detect heart tumors and excess fluid in the sac that surrounds the heart. The TEE affords the physician a better view of the heart than what may be obtained from a standard thransthoracic echocardiogram.

What do I do?
● Do not eat or drink anything 6 hours before the test.
● Coumadin/Warfarin patients should stop Coumadin/Warfarin for seventy-two (72) hours prior to the test.
● Do not smoke the day of the test.
● If you are diabetic and on insulin, please notify the nurse.
● Please notify the nurse if you have any medication allergies, throat or swallowing problems, or ulcers/gastritis.
● Patients must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. That person should be prepared to stay at the site for the duration of the test.

What will happen?
● It is necessary to have someone accompany you to drive you home. They will need to remain on site during your test. The test WILL BE RESCHEDULED if there is no one with you to drive you home.
● Adhesive skin electrodes will be applied to the chest and then attached to a heart monitor.
● An IV will be started and a mild sedative will be given through the IV.
● An anesthetic spray or liquid will be used to numb your mouth and throat.
● After the throat is numb, an ultrasound probe is passed into the esophagus. Because of the sedation and anesthetic spray, you will have very little discomfort.
● The room will be darkened slightly for the physician to better see the pictures of the heart.

How long does it take?
The entire test takes approximately twenty (20) minutes, but expect to stay in the laboratory for sixty to ninety (60-90) minutes total duration.

Post Procedure Instructions:
● You will not be able to eat or drink anything for three hours following the test unless directed differently by the physician. This is necessary so the sedation and numbness of the throat wear off and there will be no problems swallowing.
● After three hours, if COLD fluids are taken without any problems, then you are permitted to resume eating.
● Mild throat soreness for several hours after the test is normal and will resolve. Cough drops may be used to help soothe the soreness.
● Do not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 12 hours after the test.