An echocardiogram is a noninvasive ultrasound procedure used to assess the heart.

During the procedure, a transducer sends out sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard by the human ears. The sound waves move through the skin and tissues to the heart, where the waves bounce or “echo” off of the heart structures. These sound waves are sent back to the ultrasound machine that then create a moving image of the heart muscle as well as the interior of the heart.

Echocardiogram plays an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of heart and valvular disease.

Description:

There are several types of echocardiograms. The most common exam is a transthoracic echocardiogram, where the sonographer places the probe on your chest and directs the soundwaves toward your heart. Other echocardiograms may be ordered based on the type of information the Doctor is requesting.

Preparation:

Typically no preparation is needed for a transthoracic echocardiogram.  A gown is needed to gain access to your chest wall and you can expect a gel to be used on your skin.

Typical Procedure Time: 60 minutes

Echocardiograms are typically ordered when the following indications are present:

  • Family history of heart, valvular, or coronary artery disease
  • Cardiac murmurs and/or arrythmias
  • Shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue.
  • Chest pain/pressure
  • Pre op clearance
  • Stoke or stroke like symptoms
  • Heart attacks
  • History of heart surgery

What are the risks of an echocardiogram? This imaging procedure is not invasive and carries little to no risks. You may have discomfort from the positioning of the transducer because it can put pressure on the surface of the body.