How It Is Done continued...
A small amount of
gel will be rubbed on the left side of your chest to help pick up the sound
waves. A small instrument (transducer) that looks like a microphone is pressed
firmly against your chest and moved slowly back and forth. This instrument
sends sound waves into the chest and picks up the echoes as they reflect off
different parts of the heart. The echoes are sent to a video monitor that
records pictures of your heart for later viewing and evaluation. The room is
usually darkened to help the technician see the pictures on the monitor.
At times you will be asked to hold very still, breathe in and out very
slowly, hold your breath, or lie on your left side. The transducer is usually
moved to different areas on your chest that provide specific views of your
The test usually takes from 30 to 60 minutes. When the test
is over, the gel is wiped off and the electrodes are removed.
Exercise stress echocardiogram
An echo without
activity or stress will be done before you start exercising. This is called the
baseline, and after it is established you will exercise for a specific amount
of time. You will either walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bicycle
while being monitored by an EKG machine. To learn more, see Exercise Electrocardiogram.
You will then
lie on a bed or table, and another echocardiogram will be done. At times you
will be asked to hold very still, breathe in and out very slowly, hold your
breath, or lie on your left side. The transducer is usually moved to different
areas on your chest that provide specific views of your heart.
An exercise stress echo takes about 30 to 60
Dobutamine stress echocardiogram
medicine called dobutamine is used instead of exercise to stress your heart.
For this test, you will lie on your back or left side on a bed or exam
table, and a baseline echocardiogram will be done. EKG electrodes will be taped
to your arms and legs to record your heart rate during the test.