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An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart. An echocardiogram does not expose you to radiation.

How the Test is Performed :


A trained sonographer performs the test. A heart doctor (cardiologist) interprets the results.
An instrument called a transducer is placed on various locations on your chest and upper abdomen and directed toward the heart. This device uses high-frequency sound waves.
The transducer picks up the echoes of sound waves and transmits them as electrical impulses on to the machine. The echocardiography machine converts these impulses into moving pictures of the heart. Still pictures are also taken.
Pictures can be two-dimensional or three-dimensional. The type of picture will depend on the part of the heart being evaluated and the type of machine.
A Doppler echocardiogram evaluates the motion of blood through the heart.
An echocardiogram shows the heart while it is beating. It also shows the heart valves and other structures.

How is the Test Performed :

  • During the test, you will need to take off your clothes and wear a surgical gown from the waist up and lie on an exam table on your back. The gown will be provided to you.
  • Electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart beat.
    A small amount of gel is spread on your chest and the transducer will be moved over your skin. You will feel a slight pressure on your chest from the transducer.
  • You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll over onto your left side. Sometimes, a special bed is used to help you stay in the proper position.

Why the Test is Performed :

This test is done to evaluate the valves and chambers of the heart from the outside of your body. The echocardiogram can help detect:

  • Abnormal heart valves (for symptoms of shortness of breathe)
  • Congenital heart disease (abnormalities present at birth)
  • Damage to the heart muscle from a heart attack (Symptoms such as chest pain, left arm or neck pain)
  • Heart murmurs
  • Fluid in the sac around the heart (pericardial effusion)
  • Infection on or around the heart valves (infective endocarditis)
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Ability of the heart to pump (for people with heart failure)
  • Etiology of a stroke or TIA