Echocardiography

Published On 07/11/2011

Your doctor can use echocardiography to evaluate many different aspects of your heart, including your cardiac performance, the function of your heart valves, the thickness and motion of your heart walls, and the size of your heart chamber. An echo can help your doctor diagnose a variety of heart conditions.

An echo can detect the two main problems that affect heart valves, stenosis and regurgitation (also called insufficiency). Stenosis is a narrowing of the valve, resulting in an insufficient quantity of blood getting through your valve or an increase in the pressure necessary to get the blood through the valve. Regurgitation means that your valve does not shut properly, allowing blood to leak backward into your heart chambers, potentially causing congestion and a backup of blood "behind" the valve. An echo can also evaluate how well a prosthetic valve is functioning.