To diagnose your heart valve disease, your doctor will review your medical history, perform a physical examination and order tests and procedures that may include:
- Chest X-ray is a non-invasive test that takes pictures of the heart and lungs; these can help the doctor determine if there are abnormalities of the heart or lungs consistent with valve disease.
- Echocardiogram is a non-invasive test using ultrasound (sound waves) and a device called a transducer—which is placed on the surface of the chest—to create a moving picture of the heart. This test provides views of the valve opening and heart chambers; it can show if the valve is leaking and if there are problems with pumping.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) uses sound waves (ultrasound) to create detailed pictures of your heart and arteries. Unlike echocardiogram, TEE uses a probe that is passed through the mouth and into the esophagus. This provides a better picture because the esophagus is right behind the heart and the probe does not have to penetrate the chest wall in the ribs and lungs to get a clear picture.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a simple non-invasive test that can be done in the doctor’s office using small adhesive pads called electrodes that are placed on the arms, legs, and chest. These electrodes are connected to a machine that detects and prints out the heart's electrical impulses, giving a 10-second snapshot of what the heart is doing right at that moment.
- Heart catheterization is used to detect abnormalities of the heart valves, heart function and coronary arteries. This procedure uses a catheter (long thin flexible tube) that is inserted through a blood vessel in the wrist, leg, arm or neck to measure the pressure of blood in the heart chambers, take blood samples or view heart structures (using contrast dye).
- MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images of internal structures.
- Other possible tests may include: 24-hour ambulatory EKG and exercise stress test.