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.