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What is it? 

  • Echocardiogram or cardiac ultrasound utilizes high-frequency sound waves from a hand-held wand placed on the patient’s chest to provide pictures of the heart's valves and chambers. 

  • This helps the doctor evaluate the structure, pumping action of the heart and blood flow across the heart's valves.

Why is it done?

  • It is a comprehensive exam for the overall function of the heart.

  • It is used to assess cardiac structure, measure various parameters of size and function.

  • It is used to diagnose various types of heart conditions; congenital diseases, heart muscle diseases, heart valve diseases, pericardial diseases, masses, tumors, heart infections etc.

  • It is also used to assess the heart’s function in sequence; such as effects of heart attacks, hypertension, chemotherapy etc.

How is it done?

  • The patient can eat or drink normally and take all the scheduled medications on the day of the test.

  • The patient will be changing into a hospital gown in the Echo room.

  • The sonographer will place three electrodes (sticky patches) on their skin to record the EKG during the test.

  • The patient will lie on their back and on their left side during the test. The sonographer may ask them to take in and hold their breath for a few seconds during the test.

  • The sonographer will place the ultrasound wand over the patient’s chest, lower neck and upper abdomen and use some gel which enables better imaging.

  • In some studies (Contrast Echocardiograms), an IV line will need to be placed, by a technician, prior to the above procedure. An injection of saline or other contrast material (not iodine based) will be used for part of this study. If your test is a Contrast Echo, you will be notified ahead of time.


  • The sonographer will perform the test and the results will be interpreted by the physician, which will be discussed at the next follow up appointment.

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