Echocardiography - Cardiovascular Associates of Maryland
What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is a test that uses high-pitched sound
waves (ultrasound) to produce an image of the heart. The sound waves are
sent through a device called a transducer. The sound waves travel
through the chest and bounce off the heart creating echoes which are
captured by the transducer. These echoes are converted into moving
pictures of the heart that can be seen on a video monitor.
What information does it provide about the heart?
An echocardiogram is used to evaluate and monitor:
How is the test performed?
- Atrial fibrillation
- Heart murmors
- Congenital heart disease
- Heart murmors
- Infection of the heart valves
- Pulmonary Hypertension
During the test you will be asked to remove your clothes from the waist up and wear a gown
You will then lie on your back on an exam table. Sticky patches or electrodes will be attached to your chest and shoulders and connected to electrodes or
wires to record the electrocardiogram (EKG). The technician will apply a
clear gel to your chest which helps transmit the sound waves.
The lights in the exam room will be dimmed to help the technician
visualize the pictures on the monitor. The transducer, which is a
wand-like instrument, will be placed on the chest and rotated to the
areas needed to capture the images of the heart
During the exam you may be asked to hold your breath or take deep
breaths. You may also hear a “whooshing” sound which is the sound of the
blood flowing through the heart.
How to prepare for the test?
Do not eat or drink for three hours prior to the procedure. Diabetics,
particularly those who use insulin, will need special instructions from
the physician’s office. Your physician may instruct you to stop specific
heart medicines one or two days prior to the test. Wear comfortable
clothing and shoes that are suitable for exercise.