What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram ("echo") is a test that uses sound waves to produce images of the heart. The images that are produced can show the size, shape an movement of the heart's valves and chambers as well as the flow of blood through the heart.

How to prepare for the test

There is no special preparation for the test.

Eat and drink normally prior to your test.

Take all medication as you normally would.

Who does the test?

The test is done by a sonographer with special training in echocardiography.

What happens during the test?

You will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up, put on a hospital gown and lie on an exam table.

Lights may be dimmed so that the images on the monitor are easier to see.

Three electrodes (small, sticky patches) will be placed on your chest and connected to an EKG monitor on the echo machine.

A small amount of ultrasound gel is placed on a small probe called a transducer which is then pressed against the chest to obtain images of the heart.

You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll over onto your left side

You should feel no major discomfort during the test, although you may feel a slight pressure on your chest from the transducer and coolness from the gel on the transducer.

Occasionally, saline or ultrasound contrast (dye, which is different from x-ray dye) is injected through and intravenous line to make the heart show up more clearly on the test images.

How long does the test take?

The test will take under an hour.

After the test

You can go back to your normal activities immediately after the test.

The doctor who ordered the test will receive the results and review them with you.

Please make sure you know the hospital where your test is booked as the test is done at several locations throughout the city.

Developed by: Lauren Toni BA, RDCS, WRHA Cardiac Sciences Program