Echocardiography is a form of testing that visualizes the heart’s movement to detect a variety of heart conditions. The test provides a graphic outline of the heart’s movement to evaluate the pumping action of the heart and evaluate blood flow across the heart’s valves.
What is an echocardiogram?
The test is used to:
- Assess the overall function of your heart
- Determine 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, such as valvular disease or muscle function
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your surgical treatments, such as valves
What happens during the test?
- A cardiac sonographer will place three electrodes 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 on several areas of your chest.
- 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.
- During a very specialized test to assess your heart for a congenital defects (PFO or ASD), saline may be injected into one of your arm veins.
How will I feel during the test?
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 of the transducer on your chest.
How long does the test take?
The test will take about 40 minutes.
Is there any preparation for the test?
There is no preparation for your echocardiogram.