An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound scan that is used to provide a detailed view of your heart and surrounding blood vessels. A probe, called a transducer, sends out soundwaves and records the echo as they are reflected back by your heart tissue, displaying it as a moving image. These images are used to assess the size and shape of your heart, as well as checking it is working effectively, identifying any abnormalities or areas for concern.
An echocardiogram is usually requested if your doctor suspects there may be something wrong with your heart, or you are displaying symptoms that could be the result of a heart problem.
An echocardiogram test is non-invasive, painless and requires no special preparation before it is performed.
You will be asked to lay on your back or left side with your clothing removed from the waist upwards (a gown will be provided). A cardiologist, or trained technician, will pass the transducer over your chest area to obtain different views of your heart.
Different amounts of pressure will be applied in order for the technician to capture images of various areas and structures of your heart, but this should not cause discomfort. You may be asked to hold your breath for a short period of time, take deep breaths, or change positions during the procedure. If you feel discomfort at any time be sure to tell the technician.
The images will be displayed on the screen as a black and white image and recorded for the cardiologist to assess. The test usually takes less than an hour.
No, an echocardiogram is a painless test
There are no after effects from having an echocardiogram and you can resume your normal daily routine, unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
Echocardiograms can be used to diagnose new conditions, determine prognosis, monitor existing conditions, and guide treatments or further tests.