What is a Transthoracic Echocardiogram (Echo)?
A Transthoracic Echocardiogram or Echocardiography is an ultrasound examination of your heart.
In this test, high-frequency sound waves are used to create a moving picture of your heart, to detect its structure and function. The test captures both still images, as well as video of the heart moving.
Why is an Echocardiogram done?
There are many different reasons you may be asked for an Echo. It may be done to show how strong your heart muscle is, or to show how efficiently your valves are moving. It may be done to check how well your heart is functioning after having a heart attack or a heart rhythm problem.
An Echo is also able to see any fluid that may have built up surrounding the heart.
How do I Prepare?
There is no specific personal preparation required for an Echo.
What Should I Expect?
- You will be given a front opening gown to wear and then will be required to lie down on an examination table. ECG electrodes will be placed on your chest and then you will be asked to roll onto your left-hand side. The transducer will be placed on your chest.
- Ultrasound gel is used to improve contact and imaging quality. The transducer will be applied firmly against the chest wall to obtain the pictures.
- The test will be performed by a Sonographer (echocardiogram technician). The Sonographer will take recordings at a number of different sites: the left side of the chest adjacent to the sternum (breast bone), the area under the left breast, the upper abdomen and the base of the neck. You may hear noises that sound a bit like a washing machine – this sound represents the magnified ultrasound signal of blood flowing through the heart chambers and valves and is a normal sound to hear during the test. The scanning time will be approximately 40 minutes.
- You will at times be asked by the Sonographer to take a deep breath in, or to hold a breath out. You will be guided through this process.
- Once finished, you will be given a towel to wipe off any gel that you may still have on your chest and to redress.
Transthoracic Echocardiogram Results
A preliminary report will be generated from your images by the Sonographer and then reviewed and finalised by an Imaging Cardiologist. The report will then go to your referring Doctor electronically. You should contact your referring Doctor for your results and any follow up required.