Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE)

What is a transthoracic echocardiogram?

A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is the most common noninvasive type of echocardiogram, which uses high frequency soundwaves (ultrasound) to create a moving picture of your heart through the chest wall.

This test is used to examine suspected problems with the valves or chambers of the heart, as well as the heart’s ability to pump blood. An important purpose is to identify potential causes of stroke.

The test also may be used to:

  • Estimate the amount of blood pumped out of the left ventricle with each heartbeat
  • Evaluate heart size and heart valve function
  • Identify areas of poor blood flow in the heart and areas of heart muscle that are not contracting normally
  • Examine previous injury to the heart muscle caused by impaired blood flow or evidence of congestive heart failure

What happens during this procedure?

During a TTE, the patient is on their back or side on an examination table.

A technician places warm gel on parts of the chest and abdominal wall, and moves a small device known as a transducer across the chest or abdominal wall. At times, the technician may ask the patient to take a breath or exhale, or to hold their breath for a few moments. Patients may also be asked to change positions, from their back to their side or from their side to their back.

The transducer sends sound waves into the chest and picks up echoes that reflect off different parts of the heart. These soundwaves are converted into images on a television monitor or recorded in a digital format.

How long will the test take?

The test may take 45 minutes to an hour. If it is being performed on an outpatient, they should expect to be at Cedars-Sinai for at least an hour and a half.

Does a TTE cause discomfort?

This test is painless, but patients may feel some pressure as the technician presses the transducer against the chest.

What happens once the test is complete?

Once the test is done, patients are free to go home if they are outpatients. Results of the test will be given by the patient's doctor once they are available.

For an appointment, a second opinion or more information, please call 1-800-CEDARS-1 (1-800-233-2771) or email us at neurologicaldisorders@cshs.org.