An echocardiogram (or echo) is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. The echo is used to evaluate the size of the heart and its chambers as well as its pumping function. It can also detect valvular abnormalities, the presence of fluid around the heart, or evidence of a clot in the heart.
If you are scheduled for an echocardiogram, there is no preparation for this exam. The test takes approximately one hour. You will be asked to disrobe from the waist up. Females will be given a gown or cape. You will then be asked to lie on the exam table and three stickers and wires will be attached to your chest to monitor your heart rhythm during the exam. The lights will be dimmed and an ultrasound probe with gel will be placed on your chest by a trained sonographer to take the echo pictures. You may feel a slight pressure from the probe.
The sonographer will move the probe to view and take measurements of your heart from different angles. Also during the test, you may be asked to breathe in and hold your breath or to change positions to help attain the best possible images.
Your test findings are sent to a cardiologist for interpretation. You may get a separate bill from the interpreting cardiologist/physician. Results are typically available 10 days after your test was done. Your results will be sent to the ordering physician. This test takes approximately one hour.