Echocardiograms use ultrasound technology to obtain information about the heart’s structure and function. At his practice in New York City, Dr. Herbert Insel provides state-of-the-art echocardiogram evaluations to help patients throughout Manhattan and the surrounding area identify new issues and treat existing concerns.

request an appointment

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a diagnostic imaging test that uses ultrasound energy to obtain images and video of the heart so its structure and function can be assessed. Echocardiograms provide highly-detailed images of the heart muscle as well as the valves and other related structures. The imaging test is often combined with cardiac stress testing to obtain images about how the heart works while under stress, comparing images and video of the heart before exercise and immediately afterward to look for abnormalities that could indicate a disease. Echocardiograms are painless and non-invasive, requiring no anesthesia or incisions and using no radiation.

When are echocardiograms used?

Echocardiograms are often used to:

  • Assess symptoms related to heart issues
  • Evaluate a heart murmur or arrhythmia
  • Measure the thickness and stiffness of the heart walls
  • Diagnose or evaluate valve problems, infections, cardiomyopathy and similar heart-related problems
  • Evaluate the course of specific treatments
  • Evaluate the health of the heart following a heart attack
  • Look for structural defects in the heart

How is an echocardiogram performed?

Echocardiograms are performed on an outpatient basis, sometimes as part of a regular office visit and sometimes during a special visit which may also include a stress test. Echocardiograms use a special handheld device called a transducer to painlessly send ultrasound waves through the skin. These waves “bounce” off the heart and send data back to a computer that interprets the information to create images of the heart. Both video and still images can be obtained. Like other types of ultrasound tests, echocardiograms are usually performed in a dimly-lit room to make it easier to see the images as they’re being produced. Prior to the test, patients will be asked to change into a medical gown, and a special water-based gel will be applied to the skin or the end of the transducer to make it easier for the device to make contact with the skin as it passes over the treatment area.