What is an Echocardiogram? An Echocardiogram, also called an Echo, is a test that uses ultrasound waves to take pictures of the heart muscle in motion. It is a safe and painless procedure which allows a physician to watch blood flow between the chambers, to see if a valve is narrowed or leaking, and to examine how the heart muscle contracts and relaxes.
What happens during the procedure?
- You should check in with the receptionist at the Heart Center.
- An Echo technician will take you to a private room.
- There is no preparation for this test. You may eat like normal before your appointment.
- You will be asked to undress from the waist up and given a gown to wear.
- Three electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate and a tracing of this will show on the pictures the technician takes.
- You will lie on a table on your left side if possible for the first pictures. You may be asked to change positions at times. You will lie on your back for the last pictures.
- You may be asked to hold a deep breath or exhale.
- A small transducer will be used to take the pictures with a colorless gel applied to the area where the pictures are gathered.
- The technician will move the transducer over your chest to obtain different views of your heart.
- The procedure usually 30-45 minutes depending on the number of views needed.
- The exam may take longer for patients who have a broad chest, obesity, smoking history or those who suffer from chronic lung disease.
What happens after the procedure?
- The gel is removed and you can dress. A physician trained to interpret echocardiograms will read the study and forward his dictation to the physician that ordered the study.
- You may return to normal activity immediately.