A standard echocardiogram (echo), also known as a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE), is an imaging technology that uses ultrasound to create images of your heart. It is a diagnostic test used to examine the heart and its blood supply, determine how large the heart is, how well it contracts, and how the valves function.
An ultrasound probe is placed on the patient’s chest (thorax) and high frequency sound waves are used to create images of the heart. Doppler technology can also be used to analyze the speed and direction of blood flow. The images are displayed on a monitor and are digitally recorded.
A sonographer (a person trained in ultrasound imaging) will explain the test to you and answer any questions you may have.
You will be asked to remove all upper body clothing, put on a gown with the opening to the front, and lie down on an examination table.
Adhesive electrodes will be applied to your chest to monitor and record electrocardiogram (ECG) signals. The sites where the electrodes are placed will be cleaned with alcohol and shaved if necessary. A mild abrasion may also be used to ensure an interference-free and continuous ECG recording.
Some echo scans require the use of a substance called a contrast agent. The contrast agent helps to improve image quality. For this, an intravenous (IV) line will be required which the sonographer will set up.
You will be asked to lie on your left side.
The sonographer will apply some gel to a small ultrasound probe and position it on the left side of your chest. In order to obtain good quality images, it is necessary to apply some pressure on your chest with the probe.
You will hear sounds when the sonographer activates the Doppler portion of the study.
Images of the heart will be recorded and various measurements will be taken.
The data will be reviewed by a cardiologist after the test is completed. A report will be sent to the doctor(s) involved in your care.
- There is no specific preparation required for an echocardiogram. You can eat and drink as usual prior to the test. Take your usual medications unless otherwise directed by your physician.
- There are no restrictions after the echo.
- When you come to the Heart Institute, please check in with central registration in the front lobby. Then proceed to the S-Level and wait in the waiting room for your name to be called.
- The echocardiogram takes about 45 minutes to complete.
- If you have any questions prior to your echo, please call 613-696-7066, Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The image below is interactive
Touring instructions: Click and drag your mouse anywhere in the picture to move about the room. On mobile devices, drag your finger to pan the scene and pinch to zoom in or out. By clicking or tapping the lowercase “i” hotspots, you will learn about the equipment in the room and how it is used.