An echocardiogram is a valuable tool that physicians use to diagnose and manage many forms of heart disease. This painless, non-invasive test uses sound waves to check the heart's structure, movements and blood flow. It is an important tool for checking heart valves and tracking heart conditions over time.
A number of echo technologies are available at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, including:
Exercise Stress Echocardiogram:
During these tests, a patient uses a treadmill to assess how the heart functions during activity.
Pharmacological stress echocardiogram: This is an option for patients who cannot exercise but who require a cardiac stress test. During this test, the patient receives medication that temporarily causes the heart to beat faster, as it does during exercise.
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE):
This semi-invasive test gives an even clearer picture of the heart than other echo tests. During this test, the patient is sedated and a small probe is placed down the esophagus. Doctors also use TEE to study heart valves or check for blood clots in the heart before interventional procedures or during surgery to monitor patients with existing heart problems.
This is a treatment that involves delivering a short electrical shock to the chest, which helps reset the heart to a normal heart rhythm. A special external defibrillation machine is used. This treatment is performed while the patient is under sedation in our electrophysiology lab. Patients can typically go home the same day of the procedure after being monitored.
These tests are used to determine if an arrhythmia is occurring and what type and how frequently it is occurring. With Holter monitoring, or 24-hour ECG, the patient wears an external small, portable machine that records changes in heart rhythm throughout the day.
A stress test, also called an exercise stress test, is used to gather information about how well your heart works during physical activity. Because exercise makes your heart pump harder and faster than it does during most daily activities, an exercise stress test can reveal problems within your heart that might not be noticeable otherwise.
An exercise stress test usually involves walking on a treadmill while your heart rhythm, blood pressure and breathing are monitored. Your doctor may recommend an exercise stress test if he or she suspects you have coronary artery disease or an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia). An exercise stress test may also be used to guide your treatment if you've already been diagnosed with a heart condition.
- Scheduling Your Exam
Appointments are scheduled Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00p.m.. Cardiology exams are by appointment only. Typically, your referring physician will schedule an appointment for you. If you need to reschedule your Cardiology exam or if you have been asked to schedule your appointment yourself, please call Radiology Scheduling at 314.996.8080 Monday-Friday from 7:00am to 6:00pm. If you have been asked to schedule the appointment yourself, please have your physician's order and pre-authorization information required by your insurance or health plan provider in hand before calling Radiology Scheduling.
- Before Your Exam
- Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment to allow for registration time.
- Please bring a photo ID (driver’s license or state ID), insurance card(s), with you to your appointment.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to your exam. In some cases, you will be given a hospital gown to wear during the procedure.
- Be prepared to discuss your current medications, allergies, and past medical history.
- Your doctor might ask you to fast (not eat or drink anything but water) for a short time before the test. If you're diabetic, ask your doctor whether you need to adjust your medicines on the day of the test.
- For some stress tests, you can't drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks for a day before the test. Certain over-the-counter or prescription medicines also may interfere with some stress tests. Ask your doctor whether you need to avoid certain drinks or food or change how you take your medicine before the test.
- Questions About Your Cardiology Exam
Please call the Cardiology Lab at 314.996.8057 with any questions about your exam.
All cardiology exams are read by a cardiologist. The cardiologists at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital are all specialized experts in their field. The cardiologist will send the results of your exam to your physician’s office usually within 24-48 hours. If needed, the cardiologists are available to discuss your results with your physician. Your physician’s office will then in turn discuss the results with you.
- About your bill
You will receive two bills for your exam:
- The hospital bill includes the cost to cover equipment, supplies, and technical personnel. For questions, click here for Billing Resources or call 314.362.8400.
- The cardiologist's bill covers the professional interpretation of your exam. For questions, call Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (Washington University) Patient Accounts at 314.935.0500.
Additional Imaging Information
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a radiologist, call Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital at 314.996.8080.
We are conveniently located just one mile west of I-270 on Olive Blvd., at Olive and Mason in Creve Coeur, Missouri - a west county suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. Get directions to our Imaging Locations.