"Echocardiography produces a moving image of the heart that allows us to see how it works".


Echocardiography is a diagnostic test that, through high frequency sound waves (ultrasound), provides information about the shape, size and strength of the heart, the movement and thickness of its walls and the functioning of its valves.

It can also provide information about the arteries.

Echocardiography equipment converts these impulses into moving images of the heart, also allowing the speed of blood inside the chambers to be studied.

Imagen del icono de la consulta de Segunda Opinión. Clínica Universidad de Navarra

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It consists of visualizing the heart and heart valves by means of ultrasound, with a probe placed in the esophagus.

It is necessary not to have eaten solid food or drink for 4-6 hours prior to the test, nor to have taken any medication during that time. It is preferable to come accompanied.

In the examination room, you will be given a local anesthetic in the form of a lozenge or throat spray. Lying down on the table, electrodes will be placed on your chest to visualize the electrocardiogram during the study. Medication with a sedative effect can be administered by vein.

A probe will then be placed in your mouth and inserted into your esophagus, which may cause nausea that disappears when the probe is finished.

Afterwards, the study is carried out. If you are given sedation, you may fall asleep during the entire scan. The approximate duration of the study is about 20-30 minutes.

No food should be taken until two hours after the scan. Nor is it advisable to drive within 2-4 hours of the study if you have received sedation.

It consists of visualizing the heart while making an effort.

It is used to improve the diagnostic performance of the stress test. No solid food should be eaten in the two hours prior to the study.

The doctor requesting the test will indicate whether you should take your usual medication or whether it should be suspended before the test is carried out.

It is performed with the patient lying on a stretcher or walking on a treadmill or bicycle, with the chest uncovered, where electrodes will be placed for the visualization of the electrocardiogram and a cuff on the left arm for taking blood pressure.

Initially, images are collected at rest. Next, the patient must get on a treadmill or static bicycle, where he will walk/pedal for a few minutes. Once the effort is over, he will quickly go back to the stretcher to take images again. On other occasions, venous medications are used that increase the frequency of the pulses, and images are acquired with the patient lying on the examination table.

During the test, chest pain, fatigue or discomfort may appear and disappear during the recovery phase. The approximate duration of the study is 30 to 45 minutes.

After the exploration, you will be able to live a normal life and incorporate yourself to your usual tasks.

In all of the above studies, contrast can be used to improve image quality or to study certain aspects of heart function such as myocardial contraction or perfusion.

At present, the contrasts used are administered via the venous line and have proven to be safe under the established conditions of use.

When is the echocardiogram performed?

Depending on the type of echocardiographic study performed, the size, shape, and movement of the heart muscle can be determined.

It is the most important scan to study the functioning of the heart valves and how blood circulates through the heart.

Echocardiography can also provide information about the arteries.

It is sometimes used for the evaluation and prognosis of ischemic heart disease (functional or stress echocardiography).

Most frequent indications of this test:

  • Angina pectoris.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Congenital cardiopathies.
  • Valve diseases.
  • Acute myocardial infarction.
  • Heart insufficiency.
  • Arterial hypertension.

Do you have any of these diseases?

You may need to have an echocardiogram

How is the echocardiogram performed?

During the study, you will be lying on a stretcher. We will place small metal disks called electrodes on your chest to record your heart rhythm during the scan.

Then, a thick gel will be applied to your chest. The gel may be a little cold, but it will not stain or alter your skin.

An instrument that emits sound waves, called a transducer, will be placed on your chest and the specialist will move it around as he or she presses firmly against your heart. The transducer collects the echoes of the sound waves and transmits them as electrical impulses.

You may be asked to breathe in or out or to hold your breath briefly. But, for most of the study, you will need to remain still.

No special preparation is necessary before undergoing an echocardiogram.

You do not need to fast, and if you take medication on a regular basis, you can take it.

It is not a painful test and does not produce any side effects.

You will be able to live a normal life and incorporate into your daily work or home tasks.

If any of the echocardiographic techniques that require some anesthesia are performed, it is recommended that you be accompanied and then return home.

Where do we do it?


The Department of Cardiology
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

The Department of Cardiology of the Clinica Universidad de Navarra is a center of reference in different diagnostic techniques and coronary treatments.

We have been the first center in Europe to place a pacemaker by means of a catheterization without the need to open the chest, for cases of severe heart failure.

The Cardiology Department of the Clinic collaborates with the Radiology and Cardiac Surgery Departments to achieve a quick and precise diagnosis of the patient.

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • Specialized Arrhythmia Unit of national reference.
  • Unit of Hemodynamics and Interventionist Cardiology equipped with the best technology.
  • Cardiac Imaging Unit to achieve the highest diagnostic accuracy.

Our team of professionals