How Long Does an Echocardiogram Take?
An average echocardiogram will take around 20 minutes to complete. Around 5 minutes of the 20 will be spent on preparing and positioning the patient for the echocardiogram. 15 minutes on average will be spent acquiring the relevant images of the heart. A stress echocardiogram on top of this may add another 15-20 minutes.
Patient will be taken to the echocardiogram room where they will be given a gown to dress in. When taking an echocardiogram access to various areas on the chest wall will be needed. EKG leads will be placed on the patient; this allows accurate acquisition of images. The echocardiogram will typically be performed on a specially designed echocardiogram table. Often the patient will lay over to their left hand side be given a wedge to place behind the right side. This allows for clearer images due to the heart positioning.
Typically images will be taken in 3 areas. Firstly, on the front of the chest over the area called the sternum. Next is the left side of the chest wall, over the ribs on the right hand side under the armpit area. Finally is the area at the top of the stomach just underneath the ribs. Sometimes extra images will be taken just underneath the neck area or in other places.
When considering how long does an echocardiogram take, it’s often dependent on if special tests are added on such as a stress echocardiogram. Patients will be made aware beforehand if this is the case. A stress echocardiogram may take up to an extra 20 minutes depending on the type of stress. In some cases patients will exercise on the treadmill prior to the echocardiogram pictures being taken. In some cases patients will receive medicine through an IV to increase the heart rate and the pictures taken while various doses of medicines are given. In some cases, they may be special findings on an echocardiogram that mean extra attention to detail and pictures are required.
Although the echocardiogram itself may take 20 minutes there are extra things to consider when asking – how long does an echocardiogram take? Patients will often have to register first and complete paperwork. There may be a wait for the echocardiogram depending on availability that day.