Echocardiogram is a noninvasive procedure that utilizes ultrasonic waves to create moving images of your heart. The test will evaluate the heart structures including chamber size and wall thickness, heart motion, and heart valves. It will track the blood flow through the heart and check for fluid around the heart. The test will take approximately 30-60 minutes and will guide your providers in your care.
No specific preparation such as fasting or sedation is required. During the procedure, you will lie on your left side on an examination bed. The room will be darkened. The technologist (cardiac sonographer) will place warmed gel on a transducer probe and will move the probe around on the chest to obtain images at different locations. Generally, there is no special care required following an echocardiogram.
An ultrasound of the heart is called an “echocardiogram.” It is done to get pictures of the heart and the areas around the heart. Better pictures are sometimes seen if a material called “contrast” is used during the ultrasound. One type of contrast is saline. When saline is used it is called a “bubble study”. During a bubble study the doctor or nurse will shake the saline until it forms small bubbles. The bubbles are then injected into the vein through an IV. The bubble study helps to identify those abnormalities.
Your doctor may ask to have a bubble study when the echocardiogram test is ordered. Sometimes the person doing an echocardiogram thinks the bubble study would be helpful and decides to do it then. It can be especially helpful if someone has had a stroke or what is called a “TIA,” transient ischemic attack or mini stoke.
The bubble study is a very simple and usually only adds a few minutes to the test. If an IV is not in place, a doctor or nurse will place one. Sterile saline is shaken in a syringe and then injected into the IV while the ultrasound is done. The bubble study is extremely safe.
Consult with the providers who ordered this test for specific instructions regarding whether certain medications should be held. Please check with the providers who ordered your test if you have questions.