An echocardiogram is a noninvasive test used to determine
- The structure of the heart
- The function of the heart
- The competence of the valves
During the test, a transducer (like a microphone) sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard by the human ear. The transducer is placed on the chest at specific locations and angles, the ultrasonic waves move through skin and body tissues to get to the heart tissues, when the waves bounce or “echo” off the heart structures. These sound waves are sent to a computer that can create moving images of the heart’s walls and valves. This enables the doctor to assess the structure and function of your heart and the valves.
Before the test:
Generally, no prior preparation, such as fasting or sedation, is required. We request that patients refrain from any Caffeine products for 12 hours prior to the test, for optimal results.
During the test:
Echocardiograms are done in our office. Generally an echocardiogram follows this process:
- You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the test. You may wear glasses, dentures and/ or hearing aids.
- You will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up and will be given a gown to wear.
- You will lie on a table or bed, positioned on your side.
- The room will be darkened so that the images on the echo monitor can be viewed by the technologist
- The technologist will place gel on your chest and then place the ultrasound probe on the gel. You will feel a slight pressure as the technologist positions the ultrasound probe to obtain the desired images of your heart.
- During the test, the technologist will move the ultrasounds probe around and apply varying amounts of pressure to obtain images of different locations and structures of your heart. The amount of pressure behind the probe should not be uncomfortable. If it does make you uncomfortable let the technologist know.
- After the test has been completed, the technologist will wipe the gel from your chest. You may then put on your clothes.
After the test:
You may resume your usual diet and activities. Generally, there is no special care following an echocardiogram.
Risk for patients:
Some patients may feel discomfort during the test.