What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is an examination of your heart using ultrasound waves. This test will produce images that are helpful in detecting a variety of heart problems. It is a safe and painless diagnostic tool that will give your physician valuable information about your heart.
What will the pictures show?
High frequency sound waves produce images/pictures on a monitor that examine certain heart structures. The structures that can be examined are: the valves, the atria (upper chambers of the heart), the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) and the heart muscle itself.
The pictures show motion of the heart, as well as examine its "pumping power". This test will also show if there are any blood clots in the heart or fluid around the heart. In addition, to visualizing these areas of the heart, Doppler echocardiography can evaluate a heart murmur by producing a swishing sound. Doppler is used to evaluate speed and direction of blood flow. The images obtained will be recorded, reviewed by a Cardiologist and a report will be sent to your physician. This technique DOES NOT directly visualize the coronary arteries, however, areas of the heart muscle that are supplied by diseased arteries may not pump as well as those supplied by healthy arteries.
How is it done?
Before the test begins, you will be asked to remove your clothing above the waist and put on a patient gown. Several electrodes (small sticky patches) will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rhythm. The Echocardiography Technologist will then have you lie on your back or left side with your left arm up. To improve the quality of the pictures, a clear gel will be applied to your chest and you may be asked to hold your breath in or out and not to speak at certain times. A transducer (about the size of a small microphone) will be moved across your chest to obtain different views of your heart. This is not painful, but occasionally some patients experience some discomfort from the pressure applied by the transducer. The room will be darkened in order to view the pictures more clearly.
How do I prepare?
- Bring all of your signed doctors orders and referrals with you.
- Bring a list of your medications with you.
How long does it take?
Please allow approximately 30 minutes for completion of the test.
How will I get the results?
Contact the physician who ordered the test to obtain the results.
Please Note: If the results of your test need to be sent to a physician that does not practice at Doylestown Hospital, you will need to provide the physician's full name, address and if possible, FAX number. You may provide this information on the day of your visit or call 215-345-2231, Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.