An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Echocardiogram?

An Echocardiogram is a type of Ultrasound, with a specialist ultrasound technician called an Echosonographer performing this examination. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This common test allows your doctor to see your heart beating and pumping blood. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify heart disease.

Your doctor may suggest an echocardiogram to:

  • Check for problems with the valves or chambers of your heart
  • Check if heart problems are the cause of symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Detect congenital heart defects before birth (fetal echocardiogram)

What happens during the examination?

In most cases you will be required to remove any clothing from the waist up and wear a gown. The sonographer will apply a gel to your chest and pass a marker pen shaped instrument called a transducer over the gel. Images of your heart and surrounding blood vessels then showing live images of the blood flow through the heart and surrounding valves. Once the sonographer is satisfied that there are accurate images of all the relevant valves and arteries your examination is over. The images are assessed and reported upon by a Radiologist. This report will then be sent to your doctor.  In most cases the whole process takes less than an hour.

Is the examination painful or uncomfortable?

Other than the initial cool feeling of the gel on your chest you should not feel any pain or discomfort during an Echocardiogram.

What does it show?

Echocardiograms can show if there is any blood clotting, restricted flow or excessive pressure on the heart valves and surrounding blood vessels. As Echocardiograms are a type of ultrasound they show images in real time motion they can show the efficiency of the flow at the exact time of scanning. This can be used to create a measurement of the flow of blood through the major blood vessels entering and leaving the heart.

Do I need to do any preparation for an Echocardiogram?

No. It is advised, however, that you wear loose fitting clothing for your comfort.


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