What Is An Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram is a specialised form of Ultrasound that produces images of your heart. This commonly used test allows your doctor to see and assess your heart beating, pumping blood and its structure. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify heart disease.
Why Do I Need An Echocardiogram?
Echocardiograms are performed to assess potential issues with the values or chambers of your heart. Echocardiograms allow dynamic assessment of the heart while it is beating to assess any potential complications with circulation of blood.
These assessments may be required to diagnosis diseases of the heart or to assess damage as a result of heart attack.
Booking Your Appointment and Preparation
On most occasions it will be necessary to make a booking for your Echocardiogram to ensure that there is availability.
An Echocardiogram requires no special preparation prior to the appointment.
What To Expect On The Day
Before your procedure you will be asked to change into a hospital gown. A Cardiac Sonographer will take you into the Procedure room to complete your examination.
In order to acquire diagnostic images of your heart, the Sonographer will need to attach a three electrode ECG to your chest. The technician will apply a special gel to your chest that improves the conduction of sound waves and eliminates air between your skin and the transducer — a small, plastic device that sends out sound waves and receives those that bounce back. During the examination you will be asked to lie on a hospital bed and may be asked to move into several positions to acquire optimum images of your heart.
Most Echocardiograms take less than an hour, but the timing may vary depending on your condition. During a transthoracic echocardiogram, you may be asked to breathe in a certain way or to roll onto your left side. Sometimes the transducer must be held very firmly against your chest. This can be uncomfortable — but it helps the technician produce the best images of your heart.