Echocardiography (EK-o-kar-de-OG-rah-fee) or echo is a painless test that uses sound waves to create moving pictures of your heart. The pictures show size and shape of your heart. It shows how well your heart's chambers and valves are working. Echo also can pinpoint areas of heart muscle that aren't contracting well because of poor blood flow or injury from previous heart attack. Echo can detect possible blood clots inside heart, fluid buildup in pericardium (the sac around the heart), and problems with aorta. Aorta is main artery that carries oxygen-rich blood from your heart to your body. Doctors are also use echo to detect heart problems in infants and children. Transthoracic and fetal echocardiography (echo) have no risks. These tests are safe for adults, children, and infants. If you have a transesophageal echo (TEE), some risks are associated with the medicine given to help you relax. For example you may have a bad reaction to medicine, breathing problems, and nausea (feeling sick to your stomach). Your throat also might be sore for a few hours after test. Rarely tube used during TEE causes minor throat injuries. Stress echo has some risks, but they're related to exercise or medicine used to raise your heart rate, not the echo. Serious complications from stress tests are very uncommon. Go to the Health Topics Stress Testing article for more information about the risks of that test.


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