An Echocardiogram, or "echo", is a test in which your heart can be viewed and studied, using ultrasound (sound waves). The four chambers of the heart, the heart valves, and certain structures in and around the heart will be interrogated.

Listed below are a few of the commonly asked questions regarding echocardiograms.

Can I Take My Medication(s) or Eat Before My Echocardiogram?

There is no special preparation for an echocardiogram and you may eat before the test. You may also take all of your regular medications, unless you are told otherwise by your physician.

Patient A - Normal heart
Patient B- Large left heart (both left ventricle and left atrium) due to dilated cardiomyopathy (the result of prior heart attacks, excessive alcohol drinking or other cardiovascular condition).
Patient C - Pericardial effusion is seen surrounding the heart (see “PE”). The source of the fluid around the heart may be a viral infection, chronic renal (kidney) insuffciency, prior heart surgery, certain types of cancer, etc.



What Happens During an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is done by a trained echo technologist. Electrodes will be placed on your chest so that an electrocardiogram (ECG) can be recorded during the test. While resting on the exam table, a probe called a transducer will be moved to various areas on your chest, in order to obtain different views of your heart. The technologist may ask you to lie in different positions, to improve the views. You may also be asked to take a breath in and hold it, or to exhale and hold your breath, while the technologist is obtaining the various views of your heart.

Your physician is likely to request an additional procedure called Doppler echocardiography. This test will measure pressures inside the heart and visualize blood flow through the heart. You will be able to hear the blood moving through your heart because of special sound equipment.

Your test will take approximately 30-60 minutes. Afterward you may resume your normal activities, unless you are told otherwise by the technologist or your physician.


Picture A - Demonstrates the situation (in diastole) when the mitral valve is open (see arrow between the 2 leaflets of the valve).
Picture B - Shows that (when the valve is open) there is flow (appears in red color) going from the left atrium toward the left ventricle.





Picture A - Shows the situation (in systole) when the mitral valve is closed (see arrow).
Picture B - Reveals incompetence of the mitral valve. There is a leak back from the left ventricle into the left atrium (see large arrow). This is called mitral insufficiency (or mitral regurgitation) and it's severity can be graded based on the amount of abnormal color.



Where Do I Have the Echocardiogram Done?

Your echocardiogram will probably be performed in the St. Luke's Physician Office Building. The address is 2801 W. Kinnickinnic River Pkwy, Suite 777. Please register at the main desk. Please feel free to call us if you have any questions which have not been answered.
Our number is 649-3366, please ask to speak with the Echo Technologist.

Please arrive 10-15 minutes early to register. Be sure to bring your insurance cards with you. We will make a copy of them when you register.

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