Cardiology is an important part of medicine because it diagnoses and treats several heart diseases and disorders and blood vessel disorders. Coronary artery disease, heart failure, valvular heart disease and electrophysiology are four of the main branches of this specialty. A cardiologist is a person that carefully and extensively studies the history of the condition of their patients and performs physical check ups. Echocardiography was the first application of the ultrasound.
Echocardiograms are ultrasounds of the heart; they show two dimensional parts of the heart using standard ultrasound techniques. Today, the rise of new technologies has invaded cardiology creating new ultrasound systems that gives 3D real-time images.
Transthoracic echocardiograms (TTE) are the standard echocardiograms. These use a probe or an echocardiography transducer that is placed on the thorax or on the chest wall of the patient. The images can be seen through the chest wall.
The TTE is an accurate method that reviews the how healthy a heart is by evaluating the degree of heart contraction and the heart valves of the patient without being invasive. This popular test keeps improving thanks to the constant appearance of new technological advances in this field.
The transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) inserts a specialized scope into the esophagus. This scope contains an echocardiography transducer or TOE probe that records pictures from this part of the body.
The TEE offers clearer images than the TTE because the transducer is closer to the heart. The aorta, the pulmonary artery, the valves of the heart and the left and right atria are other structures that are viewed better with the TEE. Despite all this TTE has the advantage of being performed without pain while TEE may require sedation and an anesthetic lubricant for the esophagus making it an invasive procedure.