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An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. It is completely non-invasive and involves no radiation exposure.

Who is the test appropriate for?

An echocardiogram is used if your cardiologist suspects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart, or to evaluate your heart’s pumping efficiency.

Are there any preparations?

There is no preparation for a conventional echocardiogram.

What can you expect during the procedure?

After disrobing from the waist up, you will be given a gown and asked to lie down on an exam table. Electrodes are attached to your chest for an electrocardiogram (ECG) at the same time. The ECG helps with the interpretation of the echocardiogram and evaluating the electrical impulses in the heart. The lights will be dimmed so the technician can see your heart’s image on the screen more clearly. The Doppler echocardiogram uses colors to indicate the varying speed of your blood as it flows through the heart. The technician spreads gel on your chest and then firmly presses the transducer against your skin, aiming the ultrasound beam through your chest. You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll over onto one side. The transducer uses high-frequency sound waves, which are beyond the range of normal hearing. However, you may hear a pulsing “whoosh” sound, which is the machine’s approximation of blood flowing past the structures in your heart. The computer then uses the information from the transducer and creates images which are displayed on the video monitor. The entire test usually takes less than one hour.

When can I expect the results?

Results will be available once your physician has interpreted the pictures, within 24-48 hours.

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