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An echocardiogram is a medical test that uses an ultrasound  to create images of the heart. The test is non-invasive and painless, and it is typically performed by a specially trained technician.

During an echocardiogram, the technician places a small handheld device, called a transducer, on the patient's chest. The transducer emits sound waves that bounce off the heart and create images that can be viewed on a monitor.

The length of time an echocardiogram takes can vary, but typically it takes around 60 minutes.

Most people do not experience pain during an echocardiogram. However, some people may experience mild discomfort from the pressure of the transducer on their chest.

Common diagnoses made by an echocardiogram include:

  • Heart valve problems, such as aortic stenosis or mitral regurgitation

  • Heart muscle problems, such as cardiomyopathy or heart failure

  • Congenital heart defects, which are abnormalities in the heart that are present at birth

  • Blood clots or tumors in the heart

  • Problems with the pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds the heart.

How Your Heart Works - Animation

See the handout "What is Echocardiogram" for a printable page. 

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