An echocardiogram is another word for an ultrasound on you heart that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to record moving images. This test is useful for assessing the size of the heart chambers and walls, heart muscle function, heart valve function, blood clots or masses in the heart, fluid around the heart, presence of holes or defects between the heart chambers, and abnormalities of blood flow within the heart. You will be asked to remove all clothing from the waist up. You will then be asked to lie on your left side on a examination bed. Electrodes (stickers) will be placed on your chest so that we can monitor your heart rate and rhythm during the scan. Gel will be applied to the chest and a small probe moved over the skin to view your heart from different angles.A series of moving images will be recorded. It can take up to 30 minutes to complete, although the length of time does depend on the complexity of your case. There is no preparation needed for this exam.
Echo Bubble Study
In some cases it may be necessary to give an injection of saline (salt water) bubbles during an echocardiogram to help visualize the movement of blood within the heart. There are no side effects from this injection, but the test will take a little longer than usual. This is done to rule out a hole in the heart. There is no preparation needed for this exam.
Definity Contrast Echocardiogram
In some cases it may be necessary to give an injection of an ultrasound contrast during an echocardiogram to help improve the image quality for a more accurate report. There is an extremely small risk (1 in 10,000) of developing an allergic reaction to the contrast agent used. If you have had allergic reactions to any medicines before, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding please inform us before starting the scan. This test will take slightly longer than usual. There is no preparation needed for this exam.
A stress echocardiogram is a test to determine how well the heart functions under the stress of exercise. The test helps to diagnose the presence or absence of coronary artery disease (blockage of the arteries that supply the heart with oxygen). An echocardiogram (ultrasound of your heart) is performed at rest and peak levels of exercise.
You will be asked to remove any clothing from the waist up and lie on your left side on a examination bed while a series of moving images of your heart will be recorded by moving a small probe on your chest. You will then be asked to walk on a treadmill that increases in speed and incline at pre determined intervals in order to increase your heart rate. The effectiveness of a stress echocardiogram relies on the effort made by the patient. It is very important that you walk for as long as possible to reach the target workload. Your blood pressure and ECG are monitored throughout the procedure. Should a problem occur, the technologist will stop the test immediately. A nearby cardiologist will be available if necessary. It is very important for you to tell the technologist if you experience any symptoms, such as chest pain, dizziness, unusual shortness of breath, or extreme fatigue. Once reached the appropriate heart rate, the treadmill will stop abruptly and you will be asked to quickly return to the echocardiogram examination bed where images of you heart will be taken again and compared to those at rest.
This test will take approximately 45 minutes. Please wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes.