An echocardiogram (echo) is a common diagnostic test that uses high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to make pictures of your heart’s chambers, valves, walls and the blood vessels (aorta, arteries, veins) attached to your heart. Your physician may use an echo test to look at your heart’s structure and check how well your heart functions. All of which determines if there are any possible problems associated with your heart.

Why is it done?

Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram to:

  • Check for issues with the valves, chambers, walls and the blood vessels (aorta, arteries, veins) attached to your heart
  • Check if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Detect congenital heart defects before birth (fetal echocardiogram)
  • Guide or determine next steps for treatment
  • Monitor changes and improvement
  • Determine the need for more tests


  • The size and shape of your heart, and the size, thickness and movement of your heart’s walls
  • How your heart moves.
  • The heart’s pumping strength.
  • If the heart valves are working correctly.
  • If blood is leaking backwards through your heart valves (regurgitation).
  • If the heart valves are too narrow (stenosis).

The test also will help your doctor find out if there are:

  • Problems with the outer lining of your heart (the pericardium).
  • Problems with the large blood vessels that enter and leave the heart.
  • Blood clots in the chambers of your heart.
  • Abnormal holes between the chambers of the heart.

What are the risks?

  • An echo can’t harm you.
  • An echo doesn’t hurt and has no side effects.

Appointments are strongly encouraged. Walk-ins accepted if time permits, please call to enquire. If a general ultrasound is being requested, please fax the requisition to 905-499-1440

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