An echocardiogram may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.
You will be asked to remove any jewelry or other objects that may interfere with the procedure. You may wear your glasses, dentures, or hearing aids if you use any of these.
You will be asked to remove clothing from the waist up and will be given a gown to wear.
You will lie on a table or bed, positioned on your left side. A pillow or wedge may be placed behind your back for support.
You will be connected to an ECG monitor that records the electrical activity of the heart and monitors the heart during the procedure using small, adhesive electrodes. The ECG tracings that record the electrical activity of the heart will be compared to the images displayed on the echocardiogram monitor.
The room will be darkened so that the images on the echo monitor can be viewed by the technologist.
The technologist will place warmed gel on your chest and then place the transducer probe on the gel. You will feel a slight pressure as the technologist positions the transducer to obtain the desired images of your heart.
During the test, the technologist will move the transducer probe around and apply varying amounts of pressure to obtain images of different locations and structures of your heart. The amount of pressure behind the probe should not be uncomfortable. If it does make you uncomfortable, however, let the technologist know. You may be asked to hold your breath, take deep breaths, or even sniff through your nose during the procedure.
- If the structures of your heart are difficult to see, the technologist may use an IV contrast that helps the heart chambers show up better. This is not an iodine based contrast so you do not have to worry if you have an allergy to shrimp or shellfish with this type of contrast.
After the procedure has been completed, the technologist will wipe the gel from your chest and remove the ECG electrode pads. You may then put on your clothes.