What is an Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is a diagnostic study that uses sound waves to image the heart. Among structures able to be seen with sound waves are the heart muscle and chambers, the heart valves, the main arteries, and the pericardium (the sac around the heart). The heart is seen through the use of an ultrasound wand (the transducer) which passes harmless sound waves into the body and receives them back. The images are seen on the echo machine and recorded for detailed evaluation at a later time. The test takes about 45 minutes.
Do I need to do anything for the test?
The simple answer is no. You may eat and drink prior to the test. You may take your usual medicines before the test.
What will happen during the test?
The cardiac sonographer (the "echo tech") will meet you in the waiting room and escort you to the examination room. You will be asked to undress from the waist up and put on a hospital gown with the gown open in the front. The sonographer will have you lay down on a table on your left side to image the heart (this brings your heart closer to the chest wall). The table has a special section that may be removed for improved imaging.
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