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 heart.
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 minutes.
Dobutamine stress echocardiogram
Sometimes 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.