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“Echocardiography (also referred to as Echo) is a common investigation that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to produce pictures of the heart, in particular the chambers and valves of the heart. The test is painless and without side effects. It does not use radioactivity.”

What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram or ‘echo’ is a scan that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to produce pictures of the heart. The test is painless and without side effects. It does not use radioactivity.

What does it involve?

You will be taken into a darkened room. The person performing the test will either be a doctor or cardiac physiologist. You will be asked to undress to the waist and put on a gown that should be left open to the front. If you require a chaperone, you may bring a friend or relative. Alternatively, the hospital may provide a chaperone at your request. You will be asked to lie on a couch on your left hand side.  Stickers will be attached to your chest and connected to the machine. These will be used to monitor your heart rate during the test. An ultrasound probe covered by a small amount of gel is placed gently on the centre of your chest and will be moved to different positions – beneath the left breast, beneath the rib cage and to the base of your neck. This provides images of your heart from a number of different angles which are then recorded. During the echocardiogram you will hear sounds coming from the machine, which represent blood flow through the heart.

If the doctor or physiologist needs to improve the quality of the images, contrast might be injected which involves a cannula being placed in the vein in your arm.

The echocardiogram will take approximately 30-40 minutes to complete.

How will I feel during the test?

The test is painless and without side effects.

Why is it being done?

An echocardiogram gives your Doctor information about how well the heart pumps and whether your heart valves are working properly.

What are the risks?

 An echocardiogram is generally safe, and complications are rare.

Are there any special precautions that I need to take before the test?

 No. You can take all your medication as normal. You can eat and drink as normal.

What happens at the end of the test?

Once the echocardiogram is complete you can get dressed and leave. There are no limitations to what you can do after the scan, for example, you may drive.

When will I get my results from the test?

We are unable to provide results of the test on the day of your appointment. All results will be sent to the referring doctor. You will need to arrange a follow up appointment with the doctor to discuss the results of the test(s).

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