Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Echocardiogram

Echocardiogram

Patient Information

For scheduling please call
281-274-7170
or email us at
MSLHImaging@houstonmethodist.org.

Hours:
Imaging & Diagnostic Services
Monday - Friday,
7:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Saturday,
7:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Breast Center
Monday - Friday,
7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday,
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Echocardiogram

For every imaging test performed at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, our team of physicians, nurses and technologists performing and interpreting the exams brings a wealth of experience to the case. Ongoing communication between the referring physician and our radiologists in the department is a priority — helping to keep your needs at the top of the list, every time.

What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram, or echo, uses ultrasound to create images of the heart. It is a safe and painless test that helps diagnose many kinds of heart problems.

What are the Types of Echocardiograms?

There are four types of echocardiogram, and they are each performed for specific reasons.

  • Standard Echo – performed from the outside of the chest
  • Transesophageal Echo (TEE) – performed from inside of the esophagus (tube leading from mouth to stomach)
  • Dobutamine Stress Echo – performed from the outside of the chest, first while resting, then after given an injection of dobutamine to mimic the effects of exercise
  • Exercise Echo – performed from the outside of the chest, first while resting, then again after exercise on a treadmill

On the Day of Your Echo Exam

Where do I go? Campus Map

At the time your appointment is scheduled, you will be instructed to go to the Sweetwater Pavilion. When you enter, go to the Information Desk and our staff will gladly direct you from there.

When Should I Arrive?

Arrival times vary based on the type of echocardiogram that will be performed. If you are not sure of your time of arrival, please call 281-274-7170 to clarify for your specific test.

Standard Echocardiogram

How do I Prepare?

There is no special preparation. Wear comfortable clothing with a shirt that is easy to remove.

What Happens During the Test?

Generally, standard echocardiograms will follow this process:

  1. A gel-like substance is rubbed on the chest above the heart (the gel acts as a conducer).
  2. Using a transducer, a tool that sends ultrasound waves, the waves are sent through the patient’s body. The patient may be asked to change positions to capture better pictures of the heart.
  3. The sound from the transducer is reflected off structures inside the body, and the information from the sounds is analyzed by a computer.
  4. The computer then creates a picture of these structures on a television screen. The moving pictures can be recorded on film and/or videotape.

Will it Hurt?

There may be slight pressure from the transducer, but the standard echocardiogram is painless.

Are There Risks?

There are no confirmed adverse biological effects on patients caused by exposures to ultrasound waves.

After Your Test:

A board certified cardiologist will interpret your exam. Legally, the technologist cannot interpret or discuss what they are viewing while performing the exam. A report with the results will be sent to your physician within two to three business days. Please check with your physician’s office to discuss the results.

Transesophageal Echo (TEE)

How do I Prepare?

The patient should arrange for someone to drive them to and from the hospital, as you may be drowsy from the mild sedative given for the exam. Do not eat or drink eight hours before the procedure. Inform the technologist if you have stomach conditions or allergies to medications.

What Happens During the Test?

The patient will be asked to lie down, and an anesthetic will be sprayed into their mouth. Medications are given for conscious sedation. A probe will be directed down the esophagus when the patient swallows. This may be uncomfortable, but is usually not painful. The transducer on the probe will be positioned in the esophagus behind the heart and will take ultrasound pictures from this angle. This exam will be performed by a cardiologist.

Will it Hurt?

The probe that enters the esophagus may be uncomfortable and the throat may be sore following the procedure. This should be the only area of discomfort, and instruction will be given on how to soothe this discomfort.

Are There Risks?

There are no confirmed adverse biological effects on patients or instrument operators caused by exposures to ultrasound.

There is a very minimal chance of complication with insertion of the probe into the esophagus.

After Your Test:

Post-procedure instructions will be shared with you by the technologist before your test begins, and a post-procedure instruction sheet will be taken home.

A board certified cardiologist will perform and interpret your exam. Legally, the technologist cannot interpret or discuss what they are viewing while performing the exam. A report with the results will be sent to your physician. Please check with your physician’s office to discuss the results.

Dobutamine Stress Echo

How do I Prepare?

Do not eat or drink four hours before the test. If you are on heart medications, clarify instructions with your physician. Wear a two-piece outfit to the exam.

What Happens During the Test?

A dobutamine stress echo begins just as a standard echocardiogram. An IV is placed in the patient’s arm, and after the technologist has pictures of the resting heart, dobutamine will be injected through the IV. This injection will speed up the heart rate so the cardiologist can see pictures of the heart while it is pumping faster. As the effects of the dobutamine injection wear off, the heart will slow down and the IV will be removed. A cardiologist will be present throughout the exam.

Will it Hurt?

Due to the increase in heart rate, there may be some discomfort during the dobutamine injection. Other than this, the test should be painless.

Are There Risks?

There are no confirmed adverse biological effects on patients or instrument operators caused by exposures to ultrasound waves.

Complications from the dobutamine injections are very rare.

After Your Test:

A board certified cardiologist will be present and interpret your exam. Legally, the technologist cannot interpret or discuss what they are viewing while performing the exam. A report with the results will be sent to your physician. Please check with your physician’s office to discuss the results.

Exercise Echo

How do I Prepare?

Do not eat or drink four hours before the test. If you are on heart medications, check with your physician to clarify instructions. Wear clothing and shoes that will be comfortable for exercise.

What Happens During the Test?

The procedure will begin just as a standard echocardiogram. Ultrasound pictures will be taken of the heart at rest. Then, the patient will be asked to walk on a treadmill until the heart rate is high enough. Another standard echocardiogram will be taken of the heart just after exercise.

Will it Hurt?

The only discomfort experienced will be that associated with the exercise portion of the exam.

Are There Risks?

There are no confirmed adverse biological effects on patients caused by exposures to ultrasound waves.

There is no more risk associated with the test than with normal exercise.

After Your Test:

A board certified cardiologist will be present and interpret your exam. Legally, the technologist cannot interpret or discuss what they are viewing while performing the exam. A report with the results will be sent to your physician. Please check with your physician’s office to discuss the results.