An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. It is like an ultrasound image of your heart. This test is not painful and there is no radiation exposure. An echo allows doctor to see the heart beating, the blood moving through it, the heart valves and other structures of the heart.
An echo is performed by a trained "sonographer" and then Des Moines Cardiology will then interpret the results. You will be asked to remove all clothing from the waist up and put on a gown. The sonographer will then come into the room and ask you to lay on an exam table. He/she will then put some jelly on an ultrasound probe, also known as a transducer. The transducer is then held up to the chest. It releases high-frequency sound waves that bounce off the heart muscle and transmit back to the transducer as electrical impulses. The echo machine converts these impulses into moving pictures of the heart.
The transducer is placed on your ribs near the breast bone and directed toward your heart. The transducer will then be moved to the left chest and abdomen where additional images will be taken in different areas of the heart.
To prepare for an echocardiogram dress comfortably and leave plenty of time for the appointment. On average it takes an hour for a standard echocardiogram test or 90 minutes if you are having a transesophageal echocardiogram.