Echocardiography Fact Sheet

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Echocardiography at UK HealthCare

The Gill Heart Institute offers a variety of outpatient cardiac services and testing, including holter and event monitoring, stress testing, echocardiography, EKGs and cholesterol testing.

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create an image of the heart. The sonographer, or the person giving the test, can then see the heart moving on a screen. The echocardiogram is known also as transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE), Doppler ultrasound of the heart or surface echo.

What to expect

  • The test generally takes 30 to 45 minutes, is painless and noninvasive.
  • No preparations are necessary before an echo. The patient may eat or drink up to the time of the procedure.
  • The test is conducted in a quiet, dimly lit room.
  • Patients are asked to remove their clothing from the waist up. A gown is available for female patients.
  • The patient will lay down on a bed for the test and the sonographer will spread gel over the patient's chest to help the sound waves penetrate to the heart.
  • The cardiologist will move a wand (transducer) over the chest to capture the heart movements.
  • The sound waves echo on the heart, producing the heart's image.
  • Patients should remain still and quiet during the test to give the best reading possible; however, they may be asked to lay or breathe a certain way.

Transesophageal echocardiogram

Factors during the test may make the echocardiogram unclear, in which case the sonographer may want to perform a transesophageal echocardiogram.

A transesophageal echocardiogram produces a clearer image but is more invasive. A scope is inserted down the patient's throat (as though it were swallowed) and a device at the end of the scope sends sound waves to produce an image.

After the test, a cardiologist will look at the test results to determine the next steps in the patient's treatment.


UK Gill Heart Institute

American Heart Association
1-800-AHA-USA-1 (242-8721) 

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

American Society of Echocardiography

Page last updated: 8/10/2015 2:50:37 PM