Crawford, Michael H. Division of Cardiology, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Last reviewed:April 2021
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A diagnostic procedure that uses ultrasound at a frequency of 2.5–10 MHz to provide an image of the heart. Echocardiography is a methodology that employs high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to create images of the heart (see illustration). The technique is based on the principle that the interface between tissues of different acoustical impedances causes the ultrasound to be reflected to a transducer, which spends a fraction of each second receiving these echoes. There are many interfaces between blood and the various structures in the heart that contact blood, such as the heart walls, valves, and great vessels. Also, the surface of the heart reflects ultrasound because it is surrounded by the lungs, which are filled with air. Because echocardiography provides a medical image of the heart, it is a useful tool in diagnosing and managing heart disorders. See also: Biomedical ultrasonics; Echo; Heart (vertebrate); Heart disorders; Medical imaging; Ultrasonics
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