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An Echocardiogram is a type of Ultrasound exam that utilizes sound waves to view the moving images of the vessels, chambers and valves of the heart in order to evaluate the blood flow through the heart valves and the motion of the heart muscle. It may be used in conjunction with a stress test and Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) to get a clearer picture of the functions of the heart.
Your physician may recommend an Echocardiogram if you have unexplained chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath or irregular heartbeats. An Echocardiogram may also be ordered to monitor the heart after a heart attack or a previous surgery to repair a congenital heart defect.
There is no specific preparation for an Echocardiogram. If this is your first Ultrasound, you may not be sure what to expect. Not to worry, we are here to guide you every step of the way. During an Echocardiogram, warm gel is placed over the left side of your chest and a probe called a transducer is pressed firmly back and forth on your skin over the heart to create and pick up sound waves, which are converted into an image on a screen. You may be asked to lie very still, hold your breath or lie on your left side during the exam.
When the imaging is complete, the clear gel will be wiped off of your skin. If any is left on the skin, it will dry like a powder and will not stain or discolor your clothing. Once the exam is complete, you may resume your normal activity level.