An echocardiogram (echo) is a test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of your heart’s chambers, valves, walls and the blood vessels (aorta, arteries, veins) attached to your heart.

A probe called a transducer is passed over your chest. The probe produces sound waves that bounce off your heart and “echo” back to the probe. These waves are changed into pictures viewed on a video monitor.

It is a completely harmless test. It doesn’t hurt and has no side effects.

This test helps the doctor determine:

  • The heart’s pumping strength
  • If the heart valves are working correctly.
  • If the blood is leaking backwards through your heart valves (regurgitation)
  • If the heart valves are too narrow (stenosis)
  • If there is a tumor or infectious growth around your heart valves
  • Problems with the outer lining of your heart (the pericardium)
  • Problems with the large blood vessels that enter and leave the heart
  • Blood clots in the chambers of your heart.
  • Abnormal holes between the chambers of the heart.