What is a Transthoracic Echocardiogram?

A transthoracic echocardiogram is an ultrasound scan of the heart using high frequency sound waves to see all four chambers of the heart, the heart valves and the sac around the heart.

Why is a Transthoracic Echocardiogram done?

This test will help the Doctor identify abnormalities of heart structure and function.
Ultrasound allows accurate measurement of the four chambers of the heart and can display a cross-section of the beating heart, including the chambers, valves and major blood vessels that exit the heart.
The pumping function or strength of the heart is measured.
The images show us how well the muscle and valves are working, how blood is flowing through the heart, and how much damage has been done after a heart attack. An echo can also be helpful to investigate palpitations or chest pain and to look for fluid in the sac around the heart.

How should I prepare for a Transthoracic Echocardiogram?

No special preparation is necessary.
It is advisable to wear a two piece outfit for the test.
Take your usual medications and please bring a list of your medications and your referral.

What is involved?

An Echocardiogram is performed by our highly trained Sonographers.
During an Echocardioagram you need to remove all clothing above the waist and lie on a bed on your left side with the left arm extended above your head.
You will be provided with a towel for modesty and to keep warm while the test is being performed.
Small adhesive patches called electrodes are attached to your chest and shoulders to detect the electrical pulses in your heart. These are connected via leads to the ultrasound machine to monitor the heart rate during the echo.
The Sonographer places some gel on your chest and moves a transducer (a hand-held device) over the chest to transmit and receive pulses of sound waves to produce an image of the internal structures of the heart. The gel may feel cool.
During the test the room lights will be dimmed to reduce glare and improve the view of images on the screen.
The transducer is moved to take images from different parts of the chest to obtain several views of the heart. Slight pressure is required to ensure good quality pictures. You will be asked to move from your back to your left side, to breathe slowly or hold your breath. This helps in obtaining higher quality pictures.
The images are constantly viewed on the monitor and are saved on the equipment’s hard disk for review by the Cardiologist.
You will hear some sounds, this is a computerized sound representing your blood flow.
At the end of the test the Sonographer will wipe off any remaining gel.

How long will it take?

Allow approximately 45 minutes for the complete test.

Does it hurt?

The procedure is totally painless, however, you may feel some slight discomfort. The sound waves will not cause any damage to the heart.
The electrodes may sometimes leave red marks, these will fade away in a few days time.

When will my referring GP get the report?

Precise measurements will be taken from the images and compared with any previous echocardiograms. A Cardiologist will look at the test. A report will be sent to your General Practitioner by electronic mail. They are usually mailed within one- two working days of your test.

How soon can I get an appointment?

Patients can usually obtain an appointment at Peninsula Cardiology Centre for a Transthoracic Echo within a few days.