Echocardiogram

This is a simple ultrasound scan similar to those mothers have during pregnancies to image the baby. The scanner uses ultrasound pulses and then detects their reflection to build up a picture of the heart. The procedure involves changing into a gown and lying on a couch. The cardiac technician will then place an ultrasound probe with ultrasound jelly on your chest in various places to acquire images. The procedure will take approximately 20 minutes.

It is a harmless test which gives a great deal of information about the health of the heart in terms of its structure and function. It will outline the 4 main cardiac chambers, as well as the aorta allowing measurements of both dimensions and function. It will also show any defects in the 4 heart valves-leaking of the valves as shown in this image

A limitation of echocardiography is that as the coronary arteries are only 3mm in diameter they cannot be adequately seen on an echocardiogram.

An echocardiogram is useful in the majority of cardiac patients especially-

  1. To determine the valve defect causing a murmur
  2. To assess heart function in patients with shortness of breath, ankle/leg swelling, dizziness, or suspected or known coronary artery disease
  3. Patients with blackouts
  4. Patients with an abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG)
  5. Previous heart surgery
  6. Previous stroke
  7. Suspected infection on a heart valve

The procedure involves changing into a gown and lying on a couch. The cardiac technician will then place an ultrasound probe with ultrasound jelly on your chest in various places to acquire images. The procedure will take approximately 20 minutes.