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Echocardiograms

An echocardiogram (also called an echo) is a type of ultrasound test that uses high-pitched sound waves that are sent through a device called a transducer. The device picks up echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off the different parts of your heart. These echoes are turned into moving pictures of your heart that can be seen on a video screen to help your cardiologist diagnose heart problems. This test assesses the size of the heart, valves, chambers and pumping strength.

Getting Ready

  • No special preparation is necessary
  • Please arrive on time

What to Expect

You will be given a hospital gown and asked to undress from the waist up. EKG pads are placed on your chest and you will lie on your left side.  A transducer (small microphone-like device) is held against your chest.  This transducer sends sound waves that reflect or echo off various parts of your heart.  The sonographer moves the transducer over the chest area, taking pictures of different parts of the heart. You may feel some pressure as the sonographer presses with the probe. 

You will hear sounds of blood flow intermittently throughout the test.  It is normal for these sounds to vary depending upon where the sonographer is imaging, and what type of Doppler the sonographer is performing. 

The entire test takes approximately 45 minutes.

After the Test

You can resume your normal activity. You will be able to drive yourself home.  The physician who ordered the test will receive the results.  Check with your medical provider to find out when the results will be available to you.

 

Cardiovascular Services – (508) 422-2460

Stress Echocardiogram

The stress echocardiogram combines an ultrasound study of the heart (capturing sound waves off your heart and producing images on a computer screen) with a stress test. Ultrasound images are taken before and after the heart is stressed through exercise on a treadmill to show how the heart muscle works as it beats harder and faster. This test can be used to find a blocked coronary artery or to evaluate the effects of a procedure.

Getting Ready

  • Eat a light breakfast up to 2 hours before the procedure, avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, cola and chocolate (this includes both caffeinated and decaffeinated)
  • If you are on beta blocker for blood pressure control, please check with your PCP for advice on possibly stopping this medication prior to this test. 
  • Take all other medications as prescribed on the day of the test with a small amount of water
  • Bring a list of your medications with you
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing
  • Wear sneakers or walking shoes to the test
  • Bring eyeglasses, if needed to fill out forms

What to Expect

You will be given a hospital gown and asked to undress from the waist up.  An area of your chest will be cleaned with a prepping agent and alcohol. If necessary, your chest will be shaved. EKG pads with gel are placed on your chest to monitor your heart beat during the test.  A transducer (looks like a microphone) with some gel is placed on your chest.  The technician moves the transducer over the chest area taking pictures of different parts of the heart.  You may feel a slight pressure or vibration during this movement. 

Next you will walk on a treadmill (moving walkway).  The treadmill starts slowly and then gradually increases in speed and incline. Your EKG and blood pressure are monitored throughout the test.  After walking you will be helped back to the bed.  A second set of pictures are taken using the transducer.  If you feel any chest pain, headache, heart palpitations, nausea, dizziness or shortness of breath, let the staff know about it. 

The entire test takes approximately one hour.

After the Test

You can eat and drink once the test is finished. You will be able to drive yourself home. The physican who ordered the test will receive the results.  Check with your medical provider to find out when the results will be available to you.

 

Cardiovascular Services – (508) 422-2460

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram

For patients who need a stress echocardiogram but cannot exert themselves on a treadmill, the drug dobutamine is given to increase the patient’s heart rate to mimic exercise. 

This test uses high frequency sound waves to make pictures of how the heart functions when it is made to work harder under stress.

Getting Ready

  • You may have clear liquids up to 2 hours before the test
  • If you are on a beta blocker for blood pressure control, do not take this medicine the night before or the morning of your test
  • Take your regular dose of medicine on the day of the test with a small amount of water
  • Bring a list of your medications with you
  • Bring eyeglasses if needed to fill out forms

 

**Diabetic Instructions: (or as your provider has instructed you if different)

Regular, Novalog, Humalog or Apidra Insulin-DO NOT TAKE

Oral diabetes medications-DO NOT TAKE

Lantus, Levemir or NPH insulin-if you normally take:

PM dose of Lantus, Levemir or NPH insulin; administer ¾ of your usual dose the evening before the procedure

AM dose of Lantus, Levemir or NPH insulin; administer ¾ your usual dose the morning of the procedure

What to Expect

You will be given a hospital gown and asked to undress from the waist up.  An area of your chest will be cleaned with a prepping agent and alcohol.  If necessary, your chest will be shaved.  EKG pads with gel are placed on your chest and an IV (intravenous) is put into your arm/hand.  Technicians will take a series of EKGs and resting blood pressures.  Your EKG and blood pressure is monitored throughout the test. 

You will lie on a bed and a transducer (looks like a microphone) with some gel is placed on your chest.  The technician moves the transducer over the chest area taking pictures of different parts of the heart.  You may be asked to hold your breath at times during the test.  This helps the heart to be seen more easily. 

An EKG (electrocardiogram) is taken and Dobutamine is put into the IV.  As the Dobutamine is given, more pictures are taken of the heart.  If you feel any chest pain, dizziness, headache, heart palpitations, nausea or shortness of breath, let the staff know about it.

The entire test takes about 1- 1 ½ hours.

After the Test

You can eat and drink once the test is finished.  You will be able to drive yourself home. The physician who ordered the test will receive the results. Check with your medical provider to find out when the results will be available to you.

 

Cardiovascular Services – (508) 422-2460

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

A transesophageal echocardiogram uses high frequency sound waves to examine the structure and function of the heart at rest. After administering sedation, the transducer is placed in the esophagus. It provides clearer imaging than an echocardiogram. This test is generally used to examine hard-to-see structures of the heart.

Getting Ready

  • You may have clear liquids up to 4 hours before the procedure.
  • Bring eyeglasses if needed to fill out forms
  • Bring a list of medications with you
  • Take your regular dose of medicine on the day of the test with a small amount of water 

** Diabetic Instructions: (or as your provider has instructed you if different)

Regular, Novalog, Humalog or Apidra Insulin – DO NOT TAKE

Oral diabetes medications – DO NOT TAKE

Lantus, Levemir, or NPH insulin – if you normally take:

PM dose of Lantus, Levemir or NPH insulin; administer ¾ of your usual dose the evening before the procedure.

AM dose of Lantus, Levemir or NPH insulin; administer ¾ of your usual dose the morning of the procedure.            

  • Plan to be at the hospital for 2-3 hours
  • You will need a designated driver to bring you to and from the hospital

What to Expect

A cardiologist, anesthesiologist, cardiac sonographer and nurse will be with you during the test. 

EKG electrodes are placed on your chest, a blood pressure cuff placed on your arm and a pulse oximeter placed on your finger, in order to monitor your heart beat, blood pressure and oxygen saturation during the procedure.  You will be placed on oxygen and an IV will be placed into your arm or hand.  You will be asked to lie on your left side.

An anesthesiologist will administer procedural sedation through the IV.  The cardiologist may also spray the back of your throat with medication to help diminish your gag reflex.  The cardiologist will gently place the transducer into your mouth and ask you to swallow.  As you swallow, the transducer will be eased into your throat.  This should occur smoothly. You will be able to breathe easily.

Once the transducer is in place, images are taken that show the heart and its structures.  The TEE takes approximately 15-20 minutes.  The transducer is then removed and the nurse continues to monitor you for about one half hour or until you are awake and able to leave.

After the Test

You may be sleepy for a while from the medications we administered.  You will not be allowed to eat or drink for 1 hour, or until the numbing medication wears off.   The nurse will give you specific discharge instructions regarding your oral intake after the procedure.   Your throat may be scratchy or sore for a few days after the test. 

You will not be allowed to drive yourself home.  You must have a responsible adult to accompany you home.  Check with your medical provider to find out when the results will be available to you. 

 

Cardiovascular Services – (508) 422-2460      

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Pre-Registration

Patients should call to pre-register up to two weeks in advance for any scheduled surgery and out-patient appointment including most diagnostic tests, lab work and pre-operative testing. This eliminates the need to wait for an admissions representative upon arrival. Patients can go directly to their point of service. Admissions representatives are available to take calls from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Please call 508-422-2222.

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