Echocardiography, also called an echo test or heart ultrasound, is a test that takes “moving pictures” of the heart with sound waves. You don’t have to stay in the hospital. It’s not surgery and doesn’t hurt.
Your doctor may use an echo test to look at your heart’s
structure and check how well your heart is working.
This test may be needed if…
• You have a heart murmur.
• You’ve had a heart attack.
• You have unexplained chest pains.
• You’ve had rheumatic fever.
• You have a congenital heart defect.
How is it done?
Echo tests are done by trained sonographers. You may have the test done in your doctor’s office, and emergency room, an operating room, a hospital clinic, or a hospital room.
• You’ll lie on a bed on your left side or back.
• The sonographer will put special jelly on a probe and
move it over your chest area.
• Ultra-high-frequency sound waves will pick up
images of your heart and valves. No X-rays will
• Your heart’s movements can be seen on a
• A videotape or a photograph can be made of
• You can sometimes watch during the test.
• It usually takes one hour.
• It’s painless and has no side effects.
Sometimes the probe needs to be closer to your heart to give clearer pictures. You may need a special test called transesophageal echocardiography (TEE).
• As you swallow, a cardiologist will gently pass a tube with a probe on the end of it down your throat and into the esophagus. (This is the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach.)