An echocardiogram is basically an ultrasound of your heart. Sound waves are used to visualize all of your heart valves and heart chambers. The main pumping chamber of the heart is the left ventricle. The "inlet" valve, that lets the blood in from the lungs, is the mitral valve, and the "outlet" valve, through which the left ventricle pumps the blood to the rest of the body, is called the aortic valve.
With an echocardiogram, we can see if the left ventricle of the heart is enlarged and determine how strong or how weak it is. The heart valves are also visualized and we can detect whether the aortic or mitral valves are leaking (regurgitation or insufficiency) or not opening well enough due to a calcium buildup (stenosis).
When you have your echocardiogram, the technician will move a small transducer coated with gel around your chest wall to get the images. A complete study usually takes about 30 minutes.