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Echocardiogram Specialist

Brendan Sullivan, MD, FACC

Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Board Certified in Cardiology & Board Certified in Nuclear Cardiology located in Clifton, NJ & Ridgewood, NJ

Many heart-related issues can be evaluated using noninvasive techniques, such as an ultrasound to assess the structure and function of the heart. Brendan Sullivan, MD, FACC, uses advanced ultrasound imaging technology to perform state-of-the-art echocardiograms for the diagnosis and management of heart-related issues in patients in Clifton and Ridgewood, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Call today to schedule an appointment or book one directly online.

Echocardiogram Q & A

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses ultrasound to evaluate the structure and function of the heart. Unlike x-rays and CT scans, ultrasounds do not use ionizing radiation, and because the examination is painless and performed through the skin using a handheld device that rests on the skin; no sedation or anesthesia is required. Echocardiograms can be completed in about a half hour, and patients can go home and resume their regular activities immediately afterward. Sometimes, an echocardiogram is performed as part of a cardiac stress test.

What are echocardiograms used for?

Echocardiograms are extremely useful and can be used to:

  • Evaluate symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath
  • Assess heart murmurs and arrhythmias
  • Assess the heart following a heart attack
  • Diagnose and manage valve-related problems
  • Diagnose infections involving the heart or the sac around the heart
  • Monitor ongoing treatment for heart disease and heart-related issues so that treatment can be adjusted as needed
  • Assess both the structure and the function, or pumping action, of the heart

How is an echocardiogram performed?

Like other types of ultrasounds, echocardiograms are performed in a darkened room. The patient is placed on a padded exam table, and a water-based gel is applied to the chest over the heart. A handheld device called a transducer is used to transmit the ultrasound energy through the skin and chest wall without causing any pain. The gel helps ensure the transducer moves smoothly across the skin and also enables better transmission of the ultrasound energy.

During the exam, the transducer may be pressed firmly into the skin to obtain clearer images, and patients may also be asked to hold their breath for a short period to move the lungs out of the way so that images can be as clear as possible. The ultrasound waves “bounce” off the heart and transmit data back to a computer which uses that data to produce detailed images of the heart, as well as a video that demonstrates how well the heart is functioning.

How Long Does an Echocardiogram Take?

An echocardiogram typically takes 30 minutes or less. It is performed in a doctor’s office. There are three possible scenarios:

  • A test may come back normal, in which case the patient is typically free to go home
  • A test’s results may indicate additional testing or treatment that’s needed but can be scheduled for a different day
  • A test might reveal a serious and imminent heart condition that requires immediate treatment

Echocardiograms don’t often reveal heart conditions that require immediate treatment. If a test does reveal a major issue, though, the patient may be advised to remain at the doctor’s office or go to a hospital for additional treatment.

What Should Patients Who Need an Echocardiogram Look for in a Doctor?

Patients who need an echocardiogram should seek out a cardiologist who is highly experienced in their field. The top cardiologists are not only licensed, but they’re also board certified or board eligible. Some are even board certified or board eligible with more than one medical board.  At Brendan Sullivan, MD FACC, patients will find Dr. Sullivan is a highly qualified, board-certified cardiologist who offers many services, including echocardiograms.