Echocardiography is a test that uses ultrasound to assess the structure and function of the heart. It is performed by a cardiac sonographer.
The ultrasound waves reflect off the internal structure of the heart to produce images on a monitor. Doppler measurements can also be made to measure flow through the valves. It is normal to hear whooshing sounds during this test.
The resulting echocardiograph images enable diagnosis of structural abnormalities such as congenital heart disease or valvular heart disease. They also allow the function (pumping capacity) of the heart to be assessed.
There is no special preparation for echocardiography. You can eat, drink and take all your usual medications.
In preparation for your test:
- It is best to wear a two piece outfit to allow easy access to the chest region.
- Do not apply any lotions or creams to the chest region.
Please bring your referral, Medicare, Pension and/or Health care cards to your appointment.
What happens during the test
- You will need to remove your clothing from the waist up. Women will be given a gown to wear.
- The lights will be dim to allow the sonographer to view the images more clearly.
- A small probe will be placed over different areas of your chest in order to assess the heart from multiple views. A water soluble gel is used as a contact medium between the probe and your chest wall to improve image quality.
- Changes in position of the body are necessary to get high quality images. Patients are frequently asked to change position from lying flat to lying on the left side and vice versa.
- Ultrasound waves travel poorly through bone and lungs. You may be asked to hold your breath momentarily as this moves the heart closer to the transducer.
- You will be able to see images of your heart on the screen and hear sounds of blood flow. You will feel pressure on your chest where the sonographer is imaging. A series of standard measurements will be taken throughout the test.
How long does it take
Approximately 30 minutes
After your examination
You can return to your normal activities
Your images and report
The sonographer is unable to provide you with the results of the test, however a report will be sent to your referring doctor. It is very important you return to your referring doctor to discuss your examination results.
Magnolia Specialist Centre will also store an electronic copy of your Echocardiogram study in our secure database for comparison with any future studies.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you require any clarification, please contact your clinician for further information.