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What is an echocardiogram?

Echocardiography is a diagnostic technique which utilises ultrasound (sound waves at high frequency) to produce images of the internal structure of the heart. Echocardiography has become routinely used in the diagnosis, management, and follow-up of patients with any suspected or known heart diseases. It is one of the most widely used diagnostic imaging modalities in cardiology. It can provide a wealth of helpful information, including the size and shape of the heart (internal chamber size quantification), pumping capacity, and the location and extent of any tissue damage.

How can I prepare for an echocardiogram? 

Fortunately, there are no special requirements prior to conducting the test. Please allow a duration of 30 - 45 minutes during which the test may be carried out. 

The Procedure

Patients will be required to remove all items of clothing from the waist up; ladies may request a gown or sheet to cover up if necessary. Three small electrodes and wires will be placed upon the patient's chest in order to monitor heart rate and rhythm. The patient will be asked to lie on their side, as a transducer with gel will be placed at various positions upon the chest. The transducer is positioned in between ribs and a small amount of pressure is required to obtain high quality images. During the procedure, the sonographer may ask the patient to alter their position and hold their breath for a short period of time. There are no known risks associated with echocardiograms, as there is no radiation involved. The ultrasound is largely painless, however some patients may experience slight discomfort due to the positioning of the transducer between the ribs. 

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