An echocardiogram (echo) utilizes ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) to create a graphic outline of the heart’s movements. During an echo test, ultrasound from a hand-held wand placed on your chest provides pictures of the heart’s valves and chambers and helps the sonographer evaluate the pumping action of the heart.
Why is an echocardiogram performed?
An echocardiogram is considered the most accurate, non-invasive way to:
- Assess the overall function of your heart
- Determine the presence of many types of heart disease, such as valve disease, myocardial disease, pericardial disease, infective endocarditis, cardiac masses and congenital heart disease
- Follow the progress of valve disease over time
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your medical or surgical treatments
What happens during an echocardiogram ultrasound?
Before the test, the sonographer will explain the procedure in detail and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table. The sonographer will then place a wand (called a sound-wave transducer) on several areas of your chest. The wand will have a small amount of gel on the end, which will not harm your skin. This gel helps to produce clearer pictures. Sounds are part of the Doppler signal. You may or may not hear the sounds during the test.
You may be asked to change positions several times during the exam so the sonographer can take pictures of different areas of the heart. You may also be asked to hold your breath at times.
Echocardiogram Test Details
Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?
Yes. Eat and drink as you normally would.
How long will the test take?
Approximately 25 min.
Are contrast agents used?
No, our cardiac ultrasound screening protocol does not use contrast agents
Can I take my medications on the day of the test?
Yes. Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.
How will I feel during the test?
You should feel no major discomfort during the test. You may feel a coolness on your skin from the gel on the transducer, and a slight pressure of the transducer on your chest.
Echocardiogram exams are private and are not covered by RAMQ.