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    Echocardiogram

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    What is an Echocardiogram?

    An echocardiogram (also called an "echo"), is a non-invasive test to look at the structure and motion of heart function, heart valves, and blood flow through the heart. This test uses ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) to create an image of your heart on a television screen (monitor). A specially trained cardiac sonographer does the test. This test takes 45-50 minutes.

    Note: There is no proven risk of exposure to humans from this test.

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    Before Your Test

    • You get a confirmation letter by mail that tells you how to prepare for this test.


    • Bring the requisition form signed by your doctor to your appointment or we may not be able to do your test.


    • Take your regular medicines before the test.


    • Arrive at least 15-20 minutes before your scheduled tests to register. Bring your insurance information.

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    On the Day of Your Test

    Wear a loose-fitting shirt or blouse to the test. You are asked to undress from the waist up for this procedure. A gown is provided for your privacy and comfort.

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    During Your Test

    • When you are comfortable on the table, the sonographer applies electrodes (small pads) to your chest to monitor your heartbeat. Then, the sonographer applies gel to your chest area.


    • The sonographer places a transducer (a wand-like object) on your chest and takes several images of your heart. You may feel pressure during the test as the sonographer presses down to get clear images.


    • The staff may use a contrast agent (liquefied gas) during the test to get a better image of your heart.


    • The nurse places an intravenous line (IV) in your hand or arm.


    • The sonographer takes additional images of the heart after the contrast agent is injected. The nurse removes the IV at the end of the procedure.

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    After Your Test

    • Return to your normal activities after the test.


    • The test results are mailed directly to your primary doctor and to your cardiologist (if you have one). Your primary doctor and/or your cardiologist discuss the results with you.

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    Produced by the Center for Patient and Community Education in association with the staff and physicians at California Pacific Medical Center. Last updated: 2/07


    Funded by: A generous donation from the Mr. and Mrs. Arthur A. Ciocca Foundation.

    Note: This information is not meant to replace any information or personal medical advice which you get directly from your doctor(s). If you have any questions about this information, such as the risks or benefits of the treatment listed, please ask your doctor(s).

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