What is an echocardiogram?
Also called a diagnostic cardiac ultrasound, an echocardiogram (echo) is a noninvasive procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.
This test allows your provider at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates to observe your heart beating and pumping blood. This helps identify signs of heart disease.
Why would I need an echocardiogram?
An echo test is an important diagnostic tool that helps the team at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates assess the structure and function of your heart. They may use an echo test for many reasons, including to:
- Evaluate your heart’s pumping strength
- See if blood flows backward through your heart valves
- Determine the size and shape of your heart
- Observe how your heart moves
- Check for tumors or other growths
- Check for blood clots in the heart chambers
- Diagnose problems with heart lining (pericardium) or blood vessels
- Look for abnormal holes between the chambers of your heart
They may also perform echo tests to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment or to monitor a heart condition over time.
What happens during an echocardiogram procedure?
During an echo test, you lie on an exam table and one of the highly trained medical technicians at South Shore Cardiovascular Associates places small, sticky electrode patches on your chest.
The electrodes connect to an electrocardiograph (EKG) machine, which records the electrical activity of your heart during the echo. The electrodes only record, they don’t deliver a current.
Your echo technician places a small wand (transducer) on the skin of your chest. There may be a small amount of gel on the transducer, or they may apply the gel directly to your chest. This gel helps the sound waves pass through your skin.
The transducer sends sound waves into your body, and the waves echo off of your heart and back to the probe. These signals translate into images that are recorded on a video monitor for your doctor to evaluate.
Echo tests are safe and involve no risks. After the test, you clean the gel from your chest and are able to resume normal activities right away.
If you need an echocardiogram, call South Shore Cardiovascular Associates or book an appointment online today.