What Patients Should Know

Welcome to the Patient Information section of IAC Echocardiography online. The IAC provides the following information about echocardiography facilities as a service to the general public. This section is designed to help prospective patients stay educated and informed about echocardiography testing and the importance of accredited facilities.

IAC Accredited Facilities

The Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) offers an online tool to assist patients in locating an IAC accredited facility. When scheduling a procedure, patients are encouraged to research the accreditation status of the facility. Find An IAC Accredited Facility»

See My Heart - Information for Patients on Heart Ultrasound

A patient information site dedicated to helping patients and the public better understand heart and circulation ultrasound. Brought to you by the Heart and Circulation Ultrasound Experts at the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE). View website»

What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a safe, non-invasive procedure used to examine your heart and potentially diagnose problems. It uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to literally see all four chambers of the heart, the heart valves, the great blood vessels entering and leaving the heart, as well as the sac around the heart. There are many reasons that your physician may request that you have an Echocardiography examination. Physicians use Echocardiography to look for abnormalities in the large physical structures of the heart, including the heart chambers and valves. An echocardiogram may sometimes also be used to look for the cause of an abnormal heart sound (a murmur), to check the size of the heart chambers, to check for fluid around the heart, or to inspect the pumping capability (the muscles) of the heart if a patient is short of breath or has complained of certain symptoms during exertion.

The information obtained through Echocardiography examinations is extremely helpful to physicians in diagnosing a variety of conditions related to cardiovascular disease; disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Early detection of life-threatening heart disorders and disease is possible through the use of echocardiography procedures performed within Echocardiography facilities. Echocardiography's reliability in diagnosing conditions related to heart disease and stroke is encouraging as we strive for ways to reduce the more than 500,000 lives lost in the United States each year to these disorders. However, it is critical that the public realizes there are many facets that contribute to an accurate diagnosis based on echocardiography. These factors include the skill of the sonographer performing the examination, the type of equipment used, the experience, training and knowledge of the interpreting physician, and quality assurance measures. In fact, poor ultrasound examinations often lead to inconvenient, redundant studies, misdiagnosis, and even unnecessary tests or surgery.

IAC Accreditation — A "Seal of Approval" Patients Can Count On

Private offices, clinics, and departments within hospitals that are accredited in Echocardiography by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) voluntarily submit to a review of their daily operations. By participating in the accreditation process, these medical facilities demonstrate a commitment to the performance of quality Echocardiography and strive to meet nationally recognized standards. During the accreditation process, applicant Echocardiography facilities must submit documentation on every aspect of their daily operations. While completing the application, facilities are required to identify and correct potential problems, revising protocols, and validating quality assurance programs. Applications submitted, including samples of the echocardiograms performed, are reviewed by experts throughout the United States and Canada. Accreditation is granted only to those facilities that are found to be providing quality patient care, in compliance with the Standards. Once granted, IAC accreditation is valid for a period of three years, after which time the facility must undergo a repeat evaluation.