What is an echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram (also known as an echo) uses sound waves that echo against structures in the heart to build up a detailed picture of the heart. This test looks at the structure of your heart and how well your heart functions. It is a similar sort of scan to the ultrasound used in pregnancy.
How is an echocardiogram done?
Lubricating jelly is rubbed on the chest, and a probe (recorder) is placed on the chest and a pulse of high frequency sound is then passed through the skin.
The probe picks up the echoes reflected from various parts of the heart and shows them as an echocardiogram – a picture on the screen.
What can an echocardiogram show?
The echocardiogram can give accurate information about the pumping action of the heart, and about the structure of the heart and the valves.
It can be a useful test if you have recently had a heart attack of if you have heart failure. It is also used routinely to assess people with heart valve problems or congenital heart disease.
An echo is especially useful for diagnosing heart disease in newborn babies and infants as it is painless and easy to do.