About Transthoracic Echocardiograms
A transthoracic echocardiogram is a non-invasive ultrasound of your heart. It enables the cardiologist to visualize and take pictures and measurements of your heart while it is in motion by using high frequency sound waves, called ultrasound. The procedure is safe and painless.
Preparing for the Test
- You may eat, drink and take your medication before the test unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
- Plan to stay for approximately 1 hour
During the Test
You will be asked to lie on the exam table and the echo technician will attach small adhesive electrocardiogram leads to your skin. A small hand-held probe, called a transducer, will be placed against your chest to obtain the images. A small amount of clear, water-soluble gel is applied to the transducer and your skin for lubrication. The echo technician uses the transducer to visualize and take pictures of your heart in four different areas which may include:
- Along the sternum
- On the left side near the left breast
- On your upper abdominal area
- At the top of the sternum by the neck
You may be asked to change positions from lying on your back to either of your sides for better visualization of the heart. Occasionally during the exam, the technician may press firmly, however most patients do not report any discomfort. The length of the examination is approximately one hour.
After the Test
You may return to your usual routine immediately after the test is completed. The results of the test will be communicated to you by your physician once the pictures are analyzed.