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An echocardiogram (also called an echo) uses sound waves to make an image of your heart. A device called a transducer sends sound waves that echo off your heart and back to the transducer. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen.
In a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE), the transducer is moved across your chest or belly. A TTE is the most common type of echocardiogram.
This test is done to check your heart health. It's used for many reasons. For example, it may be done to:
You don't need to do anything to prepare. It may help to wear comfortable clothing that you can easily take off.
This test usually takes 30 to 60 minutes.
You will not have pain from the echocardiogram. Gel is put on your chest for the ultrasound. It may feel cool. The hand-held ultrasound device is pressed firmly against your chest, but it doesn't cause pain. You will not hear or feel the sound waves.
You may feel uncomfortable from lying still or from the transducer pressing on your chest. If you need to take a break, tell the person doing the test.
Most people do not feel any discomfort from ultrasound tests. But if you have severe difficulty breathing or can't lie flat for a long exam, you may not be able to have an entire echo study. Talk to your doctor or the person performing your echo about any concerns you have.
Results are usually available within one day. If the test is done by a cardiologist, the results may be available immediately after the test.
The heart chambers and walls of the heart are of normal size and thickness, and they move normally.
Heart valves are working normally, with no leaks or narrowing. There is no sign of infection.
The amount of blood pumped from the left ventricle with each heartbeat (ejection fraction) is normal.
There is no excess fluid in the sac surrounding the heart, and the lining around the heart is not thickened.
There are no tumours and blood clots in the heart chambers.
Heart chambers are too big. The walls of the heart are thicker or thinner than normal. A thin heart wall may mean poor blood flow to the heart muscle or an old heart attack. A thin, bulging area of the heart wall may indicate a bulge in the ventricle (ventricular aneurysm). The heart muscle walls do not move normally because of a decreased blood supply from narrowed coronary arteries.
One or more heart valves do not open or close properly (are leaking) or do not look normal. Signs of infection are present.
The amount of blood pumped from the left ventricle with each heartbeat (ejection fraction) is lower than normal.
There is fluid around the heart (pericardial effusion). The lining around the heart is too thick.
A tumour or blood clot may be found in the heart.
Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review Board: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineStephen Fort MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Stephen Fort MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
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