An echocardiogram (often referred to as an ‘echo’), is a non-invasive and risk free test which uses standard ultrasound techniques to image 2-dimensional slices of the heart. Electrodes are attached to the patient’s chest to provide continuous ECG monitoring during the test. A transducer (or probe) is placed on the chest wall of the patient. An ultrasound beam passes out from the probe and reflects back from the structures within the heart. The probe is placed in various positions that allows the cardiologist to build up an accurate image of the heart.
Echocardiogram provides information on size and shape of the heart, pumping capacity and the location and extent of any heart muscle damage. It also allows evaluation of the heart valves. A Doppler analysis is done to look at blood flow from chamber to chamber and can detect abnormalities in the pattern of blood flow through the valves. The test takes about 30 minutes and is performed by a trained technician or cardiologist.