Echocardiogram

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What is it?

A transthoracic echocardiogram (echo) is a non-invasive ultrasound scan of the heart. This test uses sound waves to produce images of your heart which allows assessment of the size of your heart chambers, how well your heart pumps, your heart valves and for the presence of any heart defects.

Preparation

All patients attending our clinics are treated with the utmost respect. Many of our testing procedures require patients to undress. A curtained area in the procedure room is available for patients to change in private. During procedures patient contact is unavoidable and this will be explained to you as your test progresses e.g. the need to place electrodes, or the application of the gel and ultrasound probe to examine your heart.

If you would prefer to have a female technologist and/or cardiologist for religious or personal reasons we will comply whenever possible. Please discuss this with our staff when making our appointment.
We always prioritize our patient's feelings and personal needs before practicality in the procedure room providing there is no potential compromise of patient safety.

What should I expect ?

You do not need to specifically prepare for an echocardiogram. Your echocardiogram will be performed by a trained echo technologist who will guide you through the study. You will need to undress to the waist. The technologist will firstly place some stickers called electrodes on your chest to allow the echocardiography machine to monitor yourheartbeatduringthetest. Duringtheechocardiogramyou
will lie on your left side or on your back. To image the your heart, the technologist will apply a small amount of gel on your chest. Using
a transducer or probe held against several area of your chest, the technologist is able to image different parts of your heart. You may be asked to hold your breath briefly during the test.

You should not feel pain during the test, however the transducer may need to be held firmly against your chest to optimise the quality of theimages;thismayresultattimesinsomeslightdiscomfort. An echocardiogram may take up to 45 minutes to perform. The results will be sent to your doctor and it is recommended that the results be discussed with him/her.

What are the risks?

There are no known risks associated with a transthoracic echocardiogram as it does not involve radiation or x-rays.

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