Echocardiogram (or Echo)

An echocardiogram uses sound waves called ultrasound to look at the size, shape, and motion of the heart. The test shows:

  • 4 chambers of the heart
  • Heart valves and the walls of the heart
  • Blood vessels entering and leaving the heart
  • Pericardium—the sac that surrounds the heart


Reasons for Test

An echocardiogram may be used to:

  • Evaluate a heart murmur
  • Diagnose heart valve disorders
  • Find changes in the heart’s structure
  • Assess motion of the chamber walls and damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack
  • Assess and monitor heart failure
  • Determine if fluid is collecting around the heart (pericardial effusion)
  • Assess and monitor birth defects/congenital heart disease
  • Assess heart function in patients with lung problems Assess chest pain
  • Look for blood clots within heart chambers

What to Expect

  • Echocardiograms are performed by specially-trained Echocardiography technicians
  • You will lie on couch and will be tilted slightly to left
  • Your chest will be exposed and a gel placed on your chest. This gel helps the sound waves travel.
  • A small, hand-held device called a transducer is pressed against your skin. The transducer sends sound waves toward your heart. The sound waves are then reflected back to the device.
  • Still images or videotape moving images can be captured.
  • To examine different parts of your heart, the transducer will be moved to different areas of your chest and you may be asked to change positions and slowly inhale, exhale, or hold your breath.
  • The gel is wiped from your chest at completion of test
  • Usually test takes 10-20 mins
  • Immediately afterwards you will be seen by Dr Lodge and preliminary results discussed with you
  • A final report will be sent to your Doctor within a few days

Possible Complications

There are no major complications associated with this test