Echocardiography is an ultrasound test of the heart. A pear shaped device called a transducer is held against the chest and produces and receives high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) that bounce off structures in the chest cavity to form images.
An echocardiogram will evaluate the size, structure and function of the heart. The valves of the heart will also be closely examined.
An echocardiogram is done for various reasons:
- To assess the ability of the heart to pump
- To assess abnormal heart sounds or murmurs
- To assess possible congenital abnormalities
- To assess previous surgical procedures
Before the test
- You do not need to do anything before your echo
- Continue taking all medications
- Fasting is not required
It is a requirement by law that we receive your consent prior to performing your test. It is important that you understand what the test is about, how it is done and what the risks are. You will be given a form which will outline these things. If you have any questions please feel free to ask the technician who will be in the room with you when you sign the form.
How the test is done
An exposed chest area is needed for this examination. Ladies will be given a gown. The technician will have to place the transducer against your chest wall, between your ribs to gain images. A water based gel is applied to the skin to help conduction of the ultrasound waves.
Three sticky electrodes will also be applied to your chest so that an ECG can be recorded throughout the test. Sometimes strong pressure is applied to the transducer. It can be uncomfortable in some areas (particularly for females as the heart sits under the breast). It is not unusual for patients to have tenderness on the ribs that may last for a day or so following this test.
You will be asked to change positions and to alter your breathing at times throughout the examination. It is important that you follow these instructions, and to otherwise lie quietly and relaxed, as this will help the technician to obtain the most accurate images.
Real time moving images of your heart will be stored electronically. The technician will take various measurements and report to the cardiologist. The cardiologist will review all images and measurements and a report will then be sent to your GP.
The examination usually takes around 40 mins.
What Are the Risks?
There are no known risks associated with echocardiograms, and no biological effects related to ultrasound waves.
How do I get my results?
A report will be sent to your referring doctor, usually within 24 hours. Your doctor will discuss your results at your next appointment. If you require your report sooner please inform either the reception staff or the technician.