Thumbnail image of: Heart Catheterization: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Heart, Interior View: Illustration

Echocardiogram, Intracardiac

What is an intracardiac echocardiogram?

An intracardiac echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to make pictures of the inner surface and valves of your heart.

When is it used?

This procedure may be done to check for:

  • Signs of infection inside the heart
  • Problems such as abnormal heart valves or holes in the heart
  • Heart health and blood flow to the lungs during surgery

How do I prepare for the test?

  • Plan for your care and a ride home after the procedure.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure. Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take. Ask your provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Your healthcare provider will tell you when to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep you from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions about not smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers may have more breathing problems during the procedure and heal more slowly. It’s best to quit 6 to 8 weeks before surgery.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the test?

This test is usually done at the hospital.

Before the test you will be given medicine to help you relax, but you will be awake during the test. You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area where a catheter will be inserted.

Your healthcare provider will put a small tube called a catheter through your skin and into a vein in your groin, arm, or neck. The catheter has a probe at its tip that bounces sound waves (ultrasound) off the inside of your heart. Your provider will guide the catheter to your heart. When the probe is in the right place, ultrasound waves are used to make pictures of the inside of the heart.

At the end of the test, your healthcare provider will remove the catheter and put pressure on the area where the catheter was inserted (the puncture site) to control any bleeding. The test usually takes about an hour.

What happens after the test?

After the procedure you may stay in a recovery area for at least a few hours or overnight, depending on what was done during the procedure. The puncture site may be bruised and sore for a few days.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks of this test?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • You may have problems with anesthesia.
  • You may have infection, bleeding, or blood clots.
  • Other parts of your body may be injured during the procedure.
  • The test can cause irregular heart rhythms, which might need treatment.
  • While not common, a heart attack or stroke might be triggered by the test.

Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-18
Last reviewed: 2014-04-13
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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