An echocardiogram (echo) is an ultrasound test that images the moving heart. A cardiac sonographer will move a hand-held device called a transducer over the chest area. High-frequency sound waves are sent to the heart and transmitted back to the ultrasound machine as live moving images. This technology provides your doctor with a comprehensive evaluation of the heart’s function and structure, including the chambers and valves.
Strain imaging evaluates the function of the heart muscle (myocardium) using cardiac ultrasound. This method is used to identify subtle changes in heart function.
Why is an echocardiogram with strain imaging performed?
The test may be used to:
- Screen and follow patients who receive cardio-toxic medications during cancer treatment
- Evaluate patients who have received radiation to the chest
- Evaluate and monitory patients with cardiomyopathy (i.e. hypertrophic, ischemic), heart failure (i.e. pre and post bi-ventricular pacemaker implant), pericardial disease
Can I eat or drink on the day of the test?
Yes. Eat and drink as you normally would, the day of the test.
Should I take my medications the day of the test?
Take all of your medications at the usual times, as prescribed by your doctor.
What should I wear on the day of the test?
You may wear anything you like. You will change into a hospital gown before the test. Please do not bring valuables. You will be given a locker to store your belongings during the test.
What happens during the test?
- Before the test, the healthcare provider will explain the procedure in detail, including possible complications and side effects. You will have the opportunity to ask questions.
- Your test will take place in the Echo Lab. The testing area is supervised by a physician.
- You will be given a hospital gown to wear. You’ll be asked to remove your clothing from the waist up.
- A cardiac sonographer will place three electrodes (small, flat, sticky patches) on your chest. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph (EKG) monitor that charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
- The sonographer will ask you to lie on your left side on an exam table. The sonographer will place a wand (called a sound-wave transducer) on several areas of your chest. The wand will have a small amount of gel on the end, which will not harm your skin. This gel helps produce clearer pictures.
- Sounds are part of the Doppler signal. You may or may not hear the sounds during the test.
- You may be asked to change positions several times during the exam so the sonographer can take pictures of different areas of the heart. You may also be asked to hold your breath at times.
How will I feel during the test?
You should feel no major discomfort during the test. You may feel a coolness on your skin from the gel on the transducer, and a slight pressure of the transducer on your chest.
How long does the test take?
The appointment time is scheduled for one hour. After the test, you may get dressed and go home or go to your other scheduled appointments.
How do I get the results of my test?
After a cardiologist has reviewed your test, the results will be entered into your electronic medical record. Your physician will have access to the results and will discuss them with you.