An echocardiogram is ideal for showing the heart valves, the size of the heart chambers and the heart muscle itself.
Echocardiogram examinations are carried out by a trained Echocardiographer using an ultrasound machine. Sophisticated computer software and sound waves are used to gain an image by bouncing the waves into your body and back to the transducer held by the sonographer. There is no radiation involved in these types of examinations.
The transducer is gently rubbed over your heart area. Warm gel is used as a coupling agent and allows the smooth transmission of the sound waves into and out of your body.
The examination is painless but you will hear the sound of your blood flowing through the heart. An ECG trace is taken during the examination as well.
Preparation: No special preparation is required. A support person is welcome to accompany you during your examination and this may be particularly appropriate if you are at all uncomfortable about undressing from the waist up.
The scan takes approximately 45 minutes. The scan images and recordings are given to a Consultant Cardiologist to report on. The report is then sent to the clinician who referred you for the scan. This can take 5-7 days.