An echocardiogram (echo) is a graphic outline of the heart's movement. During the test, ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) from a hand-held wand is placed a patient’s chest providing pictures of the heart's valves and chambers. This helps the sonographer evaluate the pumping action of the heart. An echocardiogram is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler that evaluates blood flow across the heart's valves.
Before the test, our staff will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. You will have the opportunity to ask questions.
You’ll be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up.
A cardiac sonographer will place three electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) on your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor that charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table. The sonographer will place a wand (called a sound-wave transducer) on several areas of your chest. The wand will have a small amount of gel on the end, which will not harm your skin. This gel helps produce clearer pictures.
Sounds are part of the Doppler signal. You may or may not hear the sounds during the test.
You may be asked to change positions several times during the exam so the sonographer can take pictures of different areas of the heart. You may also be asked to hold your breath at times.
How long does the test take?
The appointment will take about 40 minutes. After the test, you may get dressed and go home or go to your other scheduled appointments.
How do I get the results of my test?
After a cardiologist has reviewed your test, the results will be entered into your electronic medical record. Your physician will have access to the results and will discuss them with you.
What’s the reason is an echocardiogram performed?
The test is used to:
- Assess the overall function of your heart
- Evaluate the presence of many types of heart disease, such as valve disease, myocardial disease, pericardial disease, infective endocarditis, cardiac masses and congenital heart disease
- Follow the progress of valve disease over time
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your medical or surgical treatments
Preparation for Test
Eating and Medications
- You can eat and drink as you normally would the day of the test.
- You can take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.
Clothing to be worn for test
You may wear anything you like. Please do not bring valuables