Echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than an X-ray image and involves no radiation exposure. This test is performed to evaluate the valves and chambers of the heart in a noninvasive manner.

The echocardiogram allows doctors to evaluate heart murmurs, check the pumping function of the heart, and evaluate patients who have had heart attacks.

How to prepare

No preparation is necessary for this test. Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing.

What to expect

An echocardiogram requires a sonographer (a technician specializing in using ultrasound techniques) to apply warm gel to the chest area. This gel helps the transducer, a wand-like instrument, glide smoothly over the body and send high-frequency sound waves to the heart.

The transducer picks up the echoes of the sound waves and transmits them as electrical impulses. The echocardiography machine converts the impulses to moving images of the heart.

The echocardiogram takes approximately 60 minutes.