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Echocardiogram (echo)

An echocardiogram (echo) is a noninvasive test that uses high-frequency sound wave technology to visualize your heart in action. During the procedure, you will lie on a table as a doctor or echo technician moves an instrument called a transducer over your torso.

The transducer sends sound waves to the cardiac region. As these waves bounce off your heart, their echoes travel back through the transducer to a computer that measures and processes the sound data. The results appear as a series of moving pictures on a video monitor. Your cardiologist can then analyze these images to diagnose any abnormalities in the structure or function of your heart muscle and valves. A stress test may also be performed in conjunction with this procedure.

What to expect

During the procedure, you will be asked to lie on a table with the area to be examined exposed. A warm, water-based gel will be applied to the area, and as the technician or physician conducting the exam slides a handheld probe over the prepared skin surface, moving images of your heart will appear on the nearby video monitor. If a stress echocardiogram is ordered, you may be asked to exercise on a stationery bicycle or treadmill while a second test is performed. You may resume your normal activities after the procedure.

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