An echocardiogram, also known as a cardiac echo or simply an echo, uses sound waves to produce an image of your heart. Unlike a chest X-ray, this cardiac test does not require radiation.
An echocardiogram can tell your physician many different things about your heart function. It is a common test that is performed to detect:
- Cardiomyopathy – heart muscle that is thick, weak, stiff, or too big
- Congestive heart failure – a problem with the heart valves, circulation to the heart muscle or the chambers of the heart
- Coronary artery disease – the vessels providing blood to the heart muscle are obstructed due to possible hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Cardiac ischemia – inadequate oxygen supply to the heart muscle, which is usually a result of atherosclerosis
Unlike many other pre-operative tests, you can eat and drink normally prior to your echocardiogram. You should wear loose-fitting clothing, as you will need to remove your shirt prior to the exam.
When the test is administered, you will be taken to an examination room where you will lie on a table. The technician will apply a conductive gel on your chest, which will help to produce an image of your heart and valves.
The technician will gently rub a hand-held device, called a transducer, on your chest. This device sends and receives sound waves, which are then converted into a picture of your heart and heart valves. This test will take approximately 30-45 minutes.
Your physician will work with a cardiologist (heart specialist) to interpret your cardiac echo results, which should be ready in two to three days. If any risk factors or underlying conditions are detected, your surgeon will address these issues before performing your bariatric procedure.