Echocardiogram (Echo)

The purpose of an echocardiogram procedure is to determine the heart size, to evaluate how well the heart is functioning or pumping, and to assess the structure and function of the valves within the heart. A 2-D (two-dimensional) echocardiogram is capable of displaying a cross-section of the beating heart, including the chambers, valves, and major blood vessels around the left and right ventricles of the heart. A Doppler echocardiogram measures the speed and direction of the blood flow within the heart. It screens the four valves for leaks and other abnormalities.

What will happen during the echocardiogram procedure?

In general, allow one hour for the test. Occasionally, a test may take longer, depending on the complexity of the findings. You will be instructed to remove your shirt or blouse and will be giving a gown or towel to keep you comfortable and maintain privacy.

After lying on the examination table, the technologist will apply a colorless gel to your chest. A transducer will be moved across your chest to obtain several views of your heart. You will be lying on your left side during the echocardiogram procedure and may be moved to your back or your right side to obtain clearer views of your heart.

You may also be told to hold your breath at times during the study to help obtain higher quality images. With Doppler echocardiograms, as the transducer moves over your heat, you will hear a "whooshing" sound, much like that of a washing machine. This sound relates to the movement of blood within your heart chambers.

Images are constantly viewed on the monitor and recorded for a permanent record of the examination. These are reviewed by a cardiologist prior to the completion of the final report.

How do I prepare for an echocardiogram?

Other than wearing loose-fitting clothing, there are no special restrictions or preparation prior to a 2-D echocardiogram. Although the gel is water soluble and should not stain, it is messy and could get on your clothing, so please dress appropriately.

What should I bring with me for this test?

Bring your insurance card, your referral for the echocardiogram (if required by your insurance company), and any previous echo reports from other facilities.

Once your appointment has been scheduled, it is very important that you keep that appointment. If you are unable to do so, please give the office at least 24 hours notice of your cancellation. Our busy schedule requires tight scheduling restrictions, and it would be appreciated if you would notify our office if you will be late for your appointment. Thank you for your cooperation.

Who will give me the test results?

If your test was ordered by a provider who is not an Upstate Cardiology physician, you will receive your test results from the provider who ordered your test. If there is a critical finding on your test, Upstate Cardiology will notify you within 24 hours of your test and will also make sure the ordering provider is aware. Otherwise, if you have not heard from your provider and it has been two weeks since your test, we recommend that you call the provider who ordered the test to seek results.

If an Upstate Cardiology physician ordered your test, you will receive and review your test results with your cardiologist at a follow up visit scheduled for that purpose, unless your cardiologist indicated that he or she will call you with your results. If your diagnostic test reveals a critical finding, we will call you within 24 hours of your test to expedite your care and follow-up. If you've not heard from or seen us within 2 weeks of your test, please call 864-235-7665.