What you can expect
An echocardiogram takes about 30 to 60 minutes to complete and involves the following:
- Just before the test, the patient will be asked to change into a hospital gown.
- The patient will be asked to lie down on a table. A slippery gel is then applied to the outside of the patient's chest.
- A trained ultrasound technician moves a transducer over the patient's chest and left rib cage to collect different “views” of the heart. The transducer uses ultrasound waves to create a picture of structures moving inside the heart.
- As the sound waves reflect back from structures in the heart to the transducer, the echocardiogram machine receives and interprets them and creates a picture of the heart’s internal structures. As the transducer continuously emits ultrasound waves, it also receives continuous feedback from the heart. The result is a picture of the heart muscles, valves, and blood vessels in motion.
- Once the echocardiogram is complete, the patient can immediately resume normal activity.
There are no known risks associated with an echocardiogram, though some mild soreness of the rib cage may occur.