What happens during a transthoracic echocardiogram?

Before the test

There is no special preparation for the TTE.

What happens during a TTE?

  • During a TTE, you will lie on your back or on your left side on a bed or table.
  • Small metal discs (electrodes) will be taped to your arms and legs to record your heart rate during the test.
  • A small amount of gel will be rubbed on the left side of your chest to help pick up the sound waves.
  • The transducer is pressed firmly against your chest and moved slowly back and forth.
  • The echoes from the transducer 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 technician will move the transducer to different areas on your chest that provide specific views of your heart.
  • The test usually takes from 30 to 60 minutes.

What happens after the test?

When the test is over, the gel is wiped off and the electrodes are removed.

Are there any side effects?

There are no known risks from a TTE. However, during the test the technician may have to press hard on your chest with the transducer. Tell the technician if you feel any discomfort.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/17/2019.

References

  • DeMaria A.N., Blanchard D.G. (2011). Chapter 18. Echocardiography. In V. Fuster, R.A. Walsh, R.A. Harrington (Eds), Hurst's The Heart, 13e. Retrieved 2/16/2016 from www.accessmedicine.com 7/30/2018.
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is echocardiography? Accessed 7/30/2018.
  • Hegland DD, Jackson KP, Daubert JP. Chapter 8. Electrophysiologic Mapping. In: Pahlm O, Wagner GS. eds. Multimodal Cardiovascular Imaging: Principles and Clinical Applications. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2011. library.ccf.org Accessed 7/30/2018.

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