A physician referral is required and appointments are booked in advance.
An echocardiogram is a painless and safe test of the heart. It shows the size, shape, movement, and flow of blood through the heart. Soundwaves (ultrasound) are used to get a picture of the heart which can then be seen on a computer screen.
The pictures are saved for the doctor to review.
How do I prepare for my appointment?
There is no preparation for the test. You will need to change from the waist up into a hospital gown. Pants or a skirt can be worn during the test.
What will happen at my appointment?
The test will be done by a cardiac sonographer (ultrasound specialist).
Small stickers (called electrodes) will be placed on your chest. They are connected to the ultrasound machine. The room lights will be lowered so the pictures on the computer screen can be seen more easily.
A small amount of ultrasound jelly will be placed on your chest. This helps to make good contact between your skin and the ultrasound probe. The ultrasound probe looks like a large pencil. It will be moved around your chest during the test.
The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side. The sonographer may ask you to breathe in and out slowly, or to hold your breath. You will have to stay still, as moving can change the pictures.
If the sonographer is having a hard time getting a clear picture of your heart, the cardiologist may inject a medication called a contrast agent into a vein in your arm. This will help make the picture clearer.The test will take about 45 minutes.
What happens after my appointment?
You can go back to your usual activities. The cardiologist may wish to do further testing or examine you.