Echocardiography is a powerful tool that uses ultrasound waves to obtain a picture of the heart and the surrounding structures. Similar to what is used to image an unborn baby in pregnant women, this process is safe and does not require IV's or other more invasive techniques. By placing a wand on the chest, ultrasound beams are directed at the heart and their reflection is interpreted by a powerful computer to produce an image.

By studying these images, we are able to assess the function of the heart and often can determine the location of a prior heart attack. Heart valves can also be assessed which can become too narrowed or leak. These lesions are often the cause of murmurs heard by exam. Lastly other structures such as the sack that surrounds the heart (pericardium) and the aorta can also be visualized.

From a patient perspective, there is no preparation for the exam necessary and all medications can be taken as usual. You will be asked to disrobe from the waist up and given a gown to wear. ECG electrodes are attached and a gel is placed on the chest to improve the conduction and reception of sound waves by the transducer. The transducer is the plastic device applied to the chest to obtain the images of the heart. You may feel a slight pressure and/or vibration around the area being examined. At times you may be asked to remain silent or hold your breath so that a more clear picture of the heart can be obtained. The procedure lasts approximately 30 to 60 minutes and there are no restrictions following the exam.

Occasionally to optomize our imaging we provide intravenous echo-contrast.

Cardiac sonographers are technicians specially trained to obtain images of the heart with ultrasound. We were the first echo lab in the area to be certified by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories.  We believe this certification helps to validate our commitment to providing high quality studies for our patients and the community.

To learn more about Echocardiography, click here.