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Echocardiogram

What is a Transthoracic Echocardiogram (Heart Ultrasound; Echocardiogram; Echo)?

Echocardiogram uses ultrasound waves to produce moving pictures of your heart that allows health of your heart to be evaluated.

How do I prepare for an echo?

There is no special preparation required. However, wearing clothing that gives easy access to the chest is helpful. You should come as you are and eat or drink as you normally do. If you take medications, you should continue to take them as normal unless your doctor specifies otherwise.

How much time the test will take?

The test will last 30 minutes but expect to be at London Heart Centre for 45 minutes.

What happens during the test?

You will be asked to remove all clothing over your chest. Females will be given a gown to wear during the test.  

Three electrodes will be attached to your chest to record an electrocardiogram at the same time. This is an aid for reading the echocardiogram.

During the test, you will lie comfortably on a bed. From time to time, you may be asked to move into different positions.  

A small probe, called the transducer, will be gently placed on various positions of the chest, to obtain the images of heart in real-time. Because the sound waves do not readily pass through air, a clear jelly-like substance will be applied between the chest and the transducer to improve the contact of the transducer with the skin. As transducer will move over heart you may hear a “whooshing” sound. This sound relates to the movement of blood within your heart.

When all the necessary information is obtained, the electrodes and jelly will be removed.

What are the risks from the test?

The echocardiogram has no known risk.

What happens after the test?

The ultrasound images and Doppler recordings will be submitted to a Cardiologist who is a specially-trained physician in reading heart ultrasounds. He or she will interpret the images and will then provide your physician with a written report. The Cardiac physiologist will not provide you with any results at the time of the test.
 

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