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Echocardiogram

Echocardiography is a non-invasive and common test that uses sound waves (not X-rays) to create pictures of your heart. The results show your heart beating and pumping blood.

Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram (echo) to check for a congenital heart defect or problems with your heart valves or chambers. An echo can help spot issues such as narrowing or leaking of valves, heart defects such as abnormal communication between the right and left sides of the heart, and heart muscle malfunction.

There are a few different types of echocardiograms:

  • Transthoracic echocardiogram
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram
  • Doppler echocardiogram
  • Stress echocardiogram

Your Baystate heart doctor will recommend the best echo for your symptoms and condition. The standard type—a transthoracic echocardiogram—involves a technician pressing a handheld wand (transducer) against your skin and pointing it at your heart to record the sound wave echoes from your heart.

The test typically takes 30 minutes, and you can return home afterward.