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An echocardiogram (often called "echo") is a graphic outline of the heart's movement. During an echocardiogram test, ultrasound ( high-frequency sound waves) that comes from a hand-held wand placed on your chest, is used to provide pictures of the heart's valves and chambers and help the sonographer evaluate the pumping action of the heart. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart’s valves.

Your doctor uses the echocardiogram to

  • Assess the heart’s function
  • Determine the presence of disease of the heart muscle, valves and pericardium, heart tumors, and congenital heart disease
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of medical or surgical treatments
  • Follow the progress of valve disease