- An echocardiogram (echo) is a graphic outline of the heart’s movement. During an echo test, ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) from a hand-held wand (called a sound-wave transducer) placed on your chest provides pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers and helps the sonographer evaluate the pumping action of the heart. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart’s valves.
- Eat and drink as you normally would the day of the test.
- Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.
- You may wear anything you like. Please do not bring valuables.
- You should feel no major discomfort during the test. You may feel a coolness on your skin from the gel on the transducer, and a slight pressure from the transducer on your chest.
- 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 THE TEST IS PERFORMED
- Before the test, the health care provider will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. You will have the opportunity to ask questions.
- You will be given a hospital gown to wear. 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 transducer on several areas of your chest. This 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.
- The cardiologist will review your test and provide the results. Your referring physician will have a copy of the results for your electronic medical record.