scroll to top
Loading icon
Health Information Center
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.


  • Editorial Staff and Contributors
Publication Type:



(Echo; Heart Ultrasound; Ultrasound of the Heart)


An echocardiogram is an image test of the heart. It can show the size, shape, and motion of the heart. The test can also show how blood flows through the heart and blood vessels.

Heart Chambers and Valves

si55551150.jpg\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551150.jpgNULL82NULL2008-12-103004007585_14805Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

There are different types of echocardiograms such as:

  • Contrast echocardiogram—A special dye is used to highlight some areas.
  • Stress echocardiogram—Done while the heart's workload is increased.
  • Echocardiogram with Doppler ultrasound—Tracks flow of blood through the heart.
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram——Tools are placed down the throat to get better images.

Reasons for Test

An echocardiogram may be used to:

  • Look for injury or illness of heart, heart valves, or sac around the heart
  • Check how well the heart is working
  • Find and define birth defects or abnormal growths
  • Follow treatment or disease progress

Possible Complications

There are no major problems with this test. Types of echocardiogram, like stress, may have specific risk.

What to Expect

Prior to Test

Your doctor may review previous tests. It will help decide what type of test is best.

Description of Test

This is a process for a basic echocardiogram. A gel is put on your chest. A small, hand-held device is pressed and moved against your skin. You will not feel anything except the device on your skin. Images of the heart will appear on a screen in the room. The doctor may move the device around. It will help to get a better view of different areas. You may be asked to change positions, and slowly breathe in or out, or hold your breath.

After Test

The gel is wiped from your chest. If you are well, you can go home.

How Long Will It Take?

30 to 60 minutes

Will It Hurt?



Your doctor will talk to you about the results.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have worsening heart symptoms.

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.





  • Echocardiogram (echo). American Heart Association website. Available at:
  • Echocardiography. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at:
  • General ultrasound. Radiology Info—Radiologic Society of North America website. Available at:
  • Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.