Common reasons for echocardiogram:
To help as part of the investigation of chest pain and breathlessness
To assess heart chambers size and muscle (ventricular) function
To evaluate heart valves and to look for any narrowing or leakiness
How is it done?
Echocardiogram is simply a scan of the heart using sound waves - in fact high-frequency ultrasound waves. It is a simple and painless non-invasive investigation that produces moving images to show the anatomical structures with dynamic motion recorded in real-time. It scan be performed by two separate routes:
- Trans-thoracic echocardiogram (TTE) - scanning from outside the chest wall
- Trans-oesophageal echocardiogram (TOE) - scanning from within the body in the food pipe (oesophageal), which is right behind the heart
Both TTE and TOE are ultrasound scans of the heart and they complement each other in providing comprehensive anatomical moving images of your heart.
TTE will be done in our dedicated clinic in Uxbridge or at our local private hospitals. You will be asked to lie slightly on your left-hand side for about 30 minutes. Our cardiologists or echocardiographers will put some cold scanning gel on your chest and a small ultrasound probe will be placed at different position pressing on your chest wall to obtain ultrasound images from different angles.
TOE will be done by specialist cardiologists at one of our local private hospitals. It requires some sedation and some anaesthetic spray to numb the back of your throat. A long probe (similar to an endoscope probe) will be placed inside your food pipe (oesophagus) to obtain ultrasound images from different angles within the body. It takes abour 30 minutes to complete. After a TOE, you may remain a little sleepy due to the sedation used; we therefore recommend someone to accompany / take you home.
Who will interpret my result?
Your echocardiogram will be analysed by our expert cardiologists and the findings will be explained to you during your consultation. We can provide you a CD / DVD of your echo images free of charge, if requested. Sometimes, if your standard TTE demonstrates significant abnormality, we may recommend further contrast echo or moving on to a TOE for further, more definitive, assessment. Your cardiologists will discuss and explain to you in details the rationale for any additional investigation required.