What is an Echocardiogram?\nIf you have signs of heart problems or are at risk for heart disease, your doctor may order tests to find out how well your heart is working. One of these tests, an echocardiogram, is usually the first step.\nAn echocardiogram, also called an echo or a diagnostic cardio ultrasound, uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart. It is a non-invasive test, meaning that no instruments are inserted into your body. During the test, a specially trained technologist moves a small device, called a transducer, across your chest to take\u00a0pictures of your heart.\nWhy Do I Need an Echocardiogram?\nYour doctor may order this test if you have symptoms of heart disease and other heart problems, including:\n\nChest pain\nShortness of breath\nHeart murmurs, or unusual heart sounds\nTiredness\nWeakness\nA pounding, racing, or fluttering heart\n\nWhat Does an Echocardiogram Show?\nAn echocardiogram will show your doctor:\n\nThe size and shape of your heart\nThe size, thickness, and movement of your heart’s walls\nYour heart’s pumping strength\nIf your heart valves are working the right way, and how well they are working\n\nWhat Can I Expect During an Echocardiogram?\nBefore your test, you’ll remove all clothing above your waist and put on a hospital gown. Laying on your side or back, the technologist will apply a special gel to help move the transducer across your chest.\nThe technologist will move the transducer back and forth, sometimes pressing firmly. Sound waves will be transmitted through the transducer to your heart, creating pictures.\nNo radiation or x-rays will be used. You might hear a whooshing sound during the test, and this is simply the sound of your heart pumping blood.\nAn echocardiogram is a short test that takes about 15-20 minutes to complete.\nWhat Do My Echocardiogram Results Mean?\nAfter your test, your doctor will go over your results with you.\n\nNormal results mean that your heart and its valves are working the right way, and the amount of blood your heart pumps out is normal.\nAbnormal results can vary depending on your condition, including problems with your heart chambers or valves, the amount of blood your heart pumps, if there is extra fluid around your heart, or if you have a tumor or a blood clot.\n\nTo make an appointment for an echocardiogram, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).