What is an echocardiogram?

During an echocardiogram a technologist will be taking pictures of your heart using sound waves. The cardiologist who interprets your test will be able to measure the heart size, the pumping function of your heart, evaluate your heart valves, and measure blood flow in your heart.

Why is it ordered?

Echocardiography has revolutionized the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. It is an essential, non-invasive test to diagnose and follow patients with coronary artery disease, valvular heart disease, congestive heart failure, and heart rhythm disorders such as atrial fibrillation. The results of your echocardiogram can also help guide the decision of placing an implantable cardiac defibrillator.

What can I expect the day of my test?

  • Adhesive patches will be placed on your skin to monitor your electrocardiogram.
  • A technologist will be taking pictures of your heart using a small probe applied to the chest. A gel is applied to your skin to allow the sound waves to reach you heart.  You may feel pressure as the technologist moves the probe to take careful pictures of your heart.
  • You may be asked to change position, or hold your breath to help get the best possible picture quality.
  • The test usually lasts for 30-45 minutes.