An echocardiogram is a painless test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart. Doctors can use this information to pinpoint various abnormalities in valves or chambers of the heart and to evaluate the heart’s ability to pump. An echocardiogram also can help identify heart defects in infants and children. An echocardiogram does not use radiation like X-rays and some other tests.
During the procedure, a transducer (like a microphone) sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed on the chest at certain locations and angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the heart tissues, where the waves bounce or “echo” off of the heart structures. These sound waves are sent to a computer that can create moving images of the heart walls and valves.
An echocardiogram may be performed for further evaluation of signs or symptoms that may suggest atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, aneurysm, valvular heart disease, cardiac tumors or pericarditis.
An echocardiogram may also be simply performed to assess the heart’s overall function and general structure.Previous Page Last Review Date: August 14, 2019