What Is an Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram uses ultrasound to produce images, it is commonly referred to as an “echo.” Sound waves acquire actual “real-time” moving pictures of your heart. This “real-time movie-like” image set gives clinicians detailed information about your heart to help diagnose or monitor heart disease.
What Can I Expect During My Echocardiogram Exam?
You’ll be required to remove some clothing and put on a hospital gown then lay on a padded table. You may be required to turn to your side at some point during the exam. The imaging specialist will place a transducer on your chest that produces the high-frequency ultrasound waves to bounce off your heart creating images and sounds. You will actually hear your heart working once the exam begins. A small amount of gel will be applied to your skin to help create clearer images.
An echocardiogram can help your doctor diagnose several kinds of heart problems, including:
- An enlarged heart or thick ventricles (the lower chambers)
- Weakened heart muscles
- Problems with your heart valves
- Heart defects that you’ve had since birth
- Blood clots or tumors
Echocardiograms vary in duration but typically last from 20-30 minutes.