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An echocardiogram is ordered to look at the structure and function of your heart including the heart muscle and the heart valves. The echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves to build up a picture of the heart. The ultrasound waves are transmitted from a device on your chest (a transducer).

This same transducer also acts as a receiver to record the sound waves as they are reflected back off the heart. The strength of the reflected signal depends upon the tissue density of the various cardiac structures. The test takes about 1 hour.