An echocardiography, or echocardiogram, is an ultrasound of the heart. This technique uses uses standard two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and Doppler ultrasound to create images of the heart.

Echocardiography is widely used as a diagnostic, management and follow-up tool in cardiology.

How does the echocardiography transducer work?

The transducer produces sound waves that bounce off your heart and back to the transducer. These waves are converted into images viewed on a video monitor.

The ultrasound gel helps ultrasound waves travel from the transducer to the skin with less reflection, which happens between 2 different media, like air and the skin.

As you can see in the image below, Doppler is angle-dependent and it is therefore important that the cursor is parallel to the blood flow.

Figure 1. Waves being emitted and received by a transducer

The arrows, or indicator, allow us to know the orientation of the probe. Otherwise, if it is placed 180 degrees wrong, everything will be mirrored and we may make the wrong assessment.

M-mode, or motion mode, is commonly used for measurement of myocardial wall thickness and cavity dimensions and is useful in estimating ventricular cavity size for calculation of the ventricular shortening fraction—an estimate of ventricular function. It is a 1D echo presentation over time.