Echocardiography, also referred to as cardiac ultrasound, involves the acquisition of 2D images and dynamic 2D image clips that provide the basic visual information for analysis of cardiac size and structure, chamber dimensions, and valvular morphology. This is combined with spectral and color flow Doppler imaging of blood flow patterns through the heart and heart valves and in the major vessels attached to the heart chambers. This hemodynamic information, combined with the 2D imaging, provides a major portion of the information needed for comprehensive assessment of cardiac function and physiology.
Newer imaging modalities are evolving, including Tissue Doppler Imaging, speckle tracking to study myocardial mechanics, and 3D and 4D (live 3D) imaging. The Echocardiographer reports pertinent findings to the physician as part of the diagnostic process. Studies performed include not only the basic echocardiogram, but also stress echocardiograms, pediatric and neonatal echocardiograms, transesophageal echocardiograms, and intra-operative echocardiograms.