An echocardiogram is a graphic outline of the heart’s movement. During an echocardiogram test, an ultrasound that comes from a hand-held wand placed on your chest is used to provide pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers and help 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.
Your doctor uses the echocardiogram to:
>Assess the heart’s function
>Determine the presence of disease of the heart muscle, valves and pericardium, heart tumors, an congenital heart disease
>Evaluate the effectiveness of medical or surgical treatments
> Follow the progress of valve disease
>You can wear whatever you like. Do not bring valuables.
>You may eat and drink as you normally would on the day of the test.
>Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.
What to expect:
>Before the test, a cardiac sonographer, nurse or physician will explain the procedure in detail, possible complications and side effects.
>You will be given a hospital gown to wear. You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up.
>A cardiac sonographer will place three electrodes on your chest. The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side. He/She will place a sound-wave transducer on several areas of your chest. This will have a small amount of cool gel on the end, which is not harmful to the skin.
>You may be asked to change positions and hold your breath during the exam.
>You should feel no major discomfort during the test.
>The echo test takes about 40 minutes.
>Your physician will have access to the results and will discuss them with you.