Echocardiography is a technique that uses ultrasound waves to image the interior of the heart. The test looks at the size and function of the heart and is used to diagnose disorders of the heart and the heart valves. The test is usually performed using an ultrasound transducer (probe) placed on the skin of the chest directly over the heart. In some cases, a small probe is passed down the oesophagus instead so that it is close to the back of the heart. A moving image of the beating heart with its valves and chambers is then produced. The test takes about 20 minutes and is painless.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.