A method of obtaining an image of the structure and movement of the heart with ultrasound. Echocardiography is a major diagnostic technique used to detect structural, and some functional, abnormalities of the heart wall, heart chambers, heart valves, and large coronary arteries. It is also used to diagnose congenital heart disease (see heart disease, congenital), cardiomyopathy, aneurysms, pericarditis, and blood clots in the heart. A transducer (an instrument that sends out and receives sound signals) is placed on the chest, or an ultrasound probe is passed into the oesophagus using a flexible endoscope. Ultrasound waves are reflected differently by each part of the heart, resulting in a complex series of echoes, which are viewed on a screen and can be recorded or the results printed out. Developments such as multiple moving transducers and computer analysis give clear anatomical pictures of the heart. Doppler echocardiography measures the velocity of blood flow through the heart, allowing assessment of structural abnormalities, such as septal defects.


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