Dr. Christopher Quirk


Echocardiogarm PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 09:31

Echocardiogram (Cardiac Ultrasound)

A cardiac echocardiogram is also called a cardiac ultrasound and is one of the most commonly performed cardiac investigations. It views the heart in exactly the same way as ultrasounds used in pregnancy. It is also one of the only ways of looking at the heart in real time. It allows us to see all aspects of heart function, heart size, the working of the heart valves and whether any abnormalities are present, any holes in the heart or any fluid around the heart. The strength of pumping can be assessed. It gives us information about whether there is any damage, such as a previous heart attack.  

How is an Echo done?

Heart echocardiograms are non invasive, with no needles required. You will be required to remove some clothing, from the waist upward, but a gown will be provided to wear. Whilst lying on your left side three ECG electrodes are placed on the chest to connect to the ultrasound machine. Some ultrasound gel is applied to the chest and an ultrasound transducer (ultrasound probe) is placed on the chest wall in various positions to acquire the pictures. This process is completely painless. The position that you are lying in will enable you to look at your heart on the screen. Multiple views are obtained from different angles such that all aspects of the heart function can be assessed. There is also recording of blood flow through the heart which will make some computerized sounds. The actual scanning time may take between ten to thirty minutes.

Is an Echocardiogram dangerous?

Cardiac ultrasound is a non invasive test with no radiation involved. It is completely safe for all people, including pregnant women. Hence, it can be repeated over time to monitor changes in heart function.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 November 2009 22:49
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