An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. It uses sound waves that are bounced off the heart, reflected back and converted to images on the screen. A trained cardiologist will pass a flexible tube through the mouth and into the esophagus to obtain more information about your heart. This gives clearer pictures of the values, structures and size of the heart as opposed to an echocardiogram done from outside the chest wall.
The images reflect the structure of the heart and the function and movement of the valves and heart chambers.
Before the Test
- If done as an outpatient we advise you to have someone drive you to the hospital and take you home. You may receive sedation.
- Do not eat for several hours before the test (your TCA doctor will instruct you as to the exact amount of time).
- If you accidently do eat, please notify the lab, as your test may need to be rescheduled.
Day of the Test
- You will be asked to sign a special permit after the test has been explained to you.
- Electrodes will be attached to your chest to monitor your heart.
- The oxygen in your blood will be monitored using a monitoring device attached to a finger.
- An intravenous (IV) line will be started so that medications can be given to you.
- You will be asked to lie on your left side.
- A “numbing medicine” will be sprayed into the back of your throat.
- Medications to induce drowsiness will be given through an IV line.
- Once sedated, a tube will be passed down the patient’s throat into the esophagus.
- Images are then taken of the heart.
- The test lasts approximately 15 minutes.
Immediately After the Test
- Patient begins to wake up shortly after scope is removed.
- Liquids are given once throat is no longer numb (your TCA doctor will instruct you as to the exact amount of time).
- Patient is observed until the doctor approves your return to hospital room or leaving the hospital.
- Most patients notice a mild sore throat after the procedure.
- A cardiologist will review the study and inform you or your doctor of the results.