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Transthoracic Echocardiogram

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 5, 2023.

What is a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)?

A TTE is a procedure used to check for problems with your heart. It will also show any problems in the blood vessels near your heart. Sound waves are sent through a handheld device placed on your chest. The sound waves show the structure and function of your heart through pictures on a monitor.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

  • Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare.
  • Tell your provider about all medicines you currently take. Your provider will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for the procedure, and when to stop. Your provider will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of the procedure.
  • Tell your provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Contrast liquid may be used during the procedure to help your heart and blood vessels show up better.

What will happen during the procedure?

  • You will lie on your back or left side. Your healthcare provider will place gel on your chest and move an ultrasound probe back and forth on your chest to look at your heart. You will need to lie still during the test. You may be told to hold your breath at times, or to breathe slowly.
  • If you are having a stress TTE, you may need to run on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike. If you cannot exercise, you may be given medicine in your IV that causes your heart to work harder. During a stress TTE, healthcare providers check your heart at rest and while your heart is under stress. Healthcare providers will look for changes in your heart function as your heart beats faster and harder.

What should I expect after the procedure?

You will be taken to a room to rest. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You will then be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room.

What are the risks of a TTE?

During a TTE, the pictures of your heart may not be clear. Shadows or reflections may be seen as heart problems when your heart is normal. With a TTE, some areas of your heart may be hard to see, and you may need other tests.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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