What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a safe, non invasive procedure used to create an image of your heart. This test uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound), which produce a moving picture of the beating heart. The images show the heart chambers, valves, and large arteries and veins that bring the blood to the heart and carry the blood from your heart to your body. Ultrasound is also analyzed using a technique called Doppler that shows the blood flow in the heart and across the valves.

Why Might I Need an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is used most commonly to: 
  • Evaluate the size and strength of the heart pumping chambers. 
  • Detect leaking or narrowing of heart valves. 
  • Check for fluid around the heart. 
  • Look for blood clots or tumors within or around the heart. 
  • Look for holes between heart chambers. 
Your physician may recommend an echocardiogram to: 
  • Evaluate your heart function after a heart attack. 
  • Find the cause of a heart murmur (a sound from your heart that may represent an abnormality). 
  • Evaluate your heart valves. 
  • Find a source of chest pain. 
  • Determine a cause of shortness of breath, an abnormal heart rhythm or dizziness. 
  • Evaluate adult congenital abnormalities (present at birth) and assess surgical treatments. 
  • Assess response to pacemaker therapy, or need for defibrillator treatment. 
​A typical echocardiogram test takes 45 to 60 minutes. ​