Southern California Heart Centers' state of the art facility and highly trained personnel provide excellence in Echocardiography and ensure the most comfortable patient experience.


ECHOCARDIOGRAM

Echocardiogram, which is also known as cardiac ECHO, ECHO, or cardiac ultrasound, is a sonogram of the heart. Using standard ultrasound techniques, echocardiogram uses sound waves to image the heart. This completely noninvasive procedure allows doctors to assess the function of your heart and its valves.

An echocardiogram may be ordered if your doctor suspects problems with the valves or chambers of your heart; or with your heart's ability to pump. The underlying problems can include congenital defects, valve problems, or abnormalities in your heart muscle due to ischemia.


PREPARING FOR AN ECHOCARDIOGRAM

No special preparations are necessary for a standard echocardiogram. You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for any echocardiogram exam and leave all jewelry and valuables at home.


DURING AN ECHOCARDIOGRAM PROCEDURE

You may be asked to change into a gown. The echo technologist will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.

You will lie on a comfortable bed while the echo technologist performs the exam. The technician attaches electrodes to your body to help detect and conduct the electrical currents of the heart. A handheld device, called an ultrasound probe or transducer, is moved on the surface of the skin above the chest or abdomen after a liquid gel is placed on the probe and/or the skin.

During the echocardiogram, the technician dims the lights to better view the image on the monitor. You may hear a pulsing "whoosh" sound, which is the machine recording the blood flowing through your heart. You may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll onto your left side. Sometimes the transducer must be held very firmly against your chest. This can be uncomfortable, but it helps the technician produce the best images of your heart.

An echocardiogram exam will take approximately 30 minutes to 60 minutes.


AFTER AN ECHOCARDIOGRAM PROCEDURE

Upon completion of the exam, the cardiologist reviews the echocardiogram and stress echocardiogram. He will discuss the results with you and suggest any further tests that may be necessary. The results will be sent to your physician.

Following an echocardiogram study, you can eat and resume normal activity.


ICAEL ACCREDITIATION

The Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL) sets standards for echo labs, cardiologists and technologists to provide high quality care. Once all requirements have been met, the lab will receive ICAEL certification. Southern California Heart Centers has been an ICAEL-accredited echocardiography laboratory for adult echocardiogram and stress echocardiogram since 2003.