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Diagnostic Medical Sonography

Adult Echocardiography

What is Echocardiography?

Aortic valveEchocardiography is an imaging technique that uses Ultrasound to examine the heart. It provides direct visualization of the cardiac chambers, walls and valves. Echocardiography is a safe, non-invasive procedure used to diagnose cardiovascular disease. Echocardiography allows doctors to visualize the anatomy, structure, and function of the heart. It provides the doctor with information about the size and shape of the heart and also how well the heart’s chambers and valves are working. It can quickly diagnose the presence and severity of heart valve problems, as well as determine abnormal flow within the heart. This window to the heart enables the doctor to diagnose a number of cardiovascular diseases and aides in determining appropriate treatment options.

What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on the ultrasound monitor.

Different types of echocardiograms include the following:

  • Apical four chamber viewTransthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)
    This is the most common type. Views of the heart are obtained by moving the transducer to different locations on your chest or abdominal wall.
  • Stress echocardiogram
    During this test, an echocardiogram is done both before and after the heart is stressed either by having the patient exercise or by injecting a medicine that makes the heart beat harder and faster. A stress echocardiogram is usually done to find out if a patient might have decreased blood flow to their heart.
  • Doppler echocardiogram
    This test is used to look at how blood flows through the heart chambers, heart valves, and blood vessels. The movement of the blood reflects sound waves to a transducer. The echocardiographer measures the direction and speed of the blood flowing through your heart and blood vessels. Doppler measurements may be displayed in black and white or in color.
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
    For this test, the probe is passed down the esophagus instead of being moved over the outside of the chest wall. TEE shows clearer pictures of your heart, because the probe is located closer to the heart and because the lungs and bones of the chest wall do not block the sound waves produced by the probe. A sedative and an anesthetic applied to the throat are used to make you comfortable during this test.

Completion of the Montgomery Community College Echo track will prepare you to sit for the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) examination and become a credentialed RDCS (Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer).


Parasternal long axis viewFor more information visit the American Society of Echocardiography.

Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers The (SDMS) was founded in 1970 to promote, advance, and educate its members and the medical community in the science of Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (ARDMS) is an independent, nonprofit organization that administers examinations and awards credentials in the areas of diagnostic medical sonography, diagnostic cardiac sonography and vascular technology.

Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography The mission of the JRC-DMS and its sponsoring organizations is to cooperate to establish, maintain, and promote appropriate standards of quality for educational programs in diagnostic medical sonography and to provide recognition for educational programs that meet or exceed the standards.

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is the largest programmatic/specialized accreditor in the health sciences field. In collaboration with its Committees on Accreditation, CAAHEP reviews and accredits more than 2000 educational programs in twenty-one health science occupations across the United States and Canada.

For more information about earning potential and work environment for sonographers, visit the Inside Scoop.

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