The art of cardiology makes use of many different diagnostic tools ranging from a simple stethoscope to radiographs, electrocardiography or ultrasonography. It takes years of listening to normal and abnormal hearts to become proficient at detecting and identifying abnormalities.
If a patient is diagnosed with a heart disorder on an examination or based on clinical history, the first diagnostic steps usually include chest x-rays and an electrocardiogram. In some cases these tests will provide enough information to arrive at a diagnosis. In other cases however, a cardiac ultrasound may be necessary to identify disorders within the heart chambers themselves.