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An Echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves to look at the anatomy of the heart. Some of the structures that are seen are the valves, chambers and heart function. A transducer probe is used to transmit sound waves into the heart.

The patient does not need to perform any special tasks before the procedure. Once the physician's orders are verified, the Echo technologist places a small amount of ultrasound gel on the patient's chest(right over the heart are). The technologist then uses a transducer to record images of the heart. The ultrasound gel helps transmit soundwaves through the transducer. Those sound waves are converted to images and displayed on the computer for the physician to read.

A physician may order an echo for the following reasons:

  1. To detect any abnormalities in the size and the function of the heart.
  2. To detect any thickness of the heart walls.
  3. To check the heart valves for leaks and how well they open.
  4. To evaluate the heart before a patient receives chemotherapy or before surgery.

The study takes anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to do.