Echocardiography (“Echo”) is the technique of visualising the heart with high
frequency sound waves through a hand-held transducer (ultrasound). It provides
information about the structure and function of your heart.
Why does my doctor want me to have this test?
The procedure may be used to look for abnormalities of the heart muscle, valves or
the main blood vessels. It may be ordered if there is suspicion of an enlarged or
weakened heart. An Echo can detect the cause of a heart murmur.
How do I prepare for the test?
The procedure takes approximately 40 minutes, and requires you to remove the
clothes from your upper body. A gown will be provided for your comfort. After
electrode dots are placed on your skin, you will be asked to lie down on the
examination bench. The hand-held transducer will be applied to the chest wall with
ultrasound gel. The images of your heart will be displayed on the monitor, and the
sound of the blood flow may be heard.
Is it dangerous?
No. An Echocardiogram is completely safe. It will not interfere with any electronic devices. Sometimes the transducer may be cold on the skin. No X-Rays are used, and it is similar to foetal ultrasound performed during pregnancy. The procedure does not impair your ability to drive.
What happens after the test?
The results of the Echo are will be made available to your Doctor. Urgent problems will be communicated directly by telephone.