Echocardiogram (Echo)


An Echocardiogram or Echo is a common non-invasive imaging test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to understand how your heart is functioning at rest.


Your cardiologist uses the images from this test to monitor how well your heart is pumping and to identify if there are any changes to the structure of your heart and to look for problems with heart valves.


Why am I having this test?

An echo may be performed for several reasons: you may have discussed a recent change in symptoms which is suggestive of heart disease such as shortness of breath, fatigue or chest pain with your doctor; you may have a known heart condition that requires regular monitoring such as a leaky or narrowed heart valve. During the echo, pictures will be taken of your heart muscle, the flow of blood through your heart, the valves that separate the chambers of your heart and the walls of your heart chambers. Your cardiologist will use the information gathered during this test and your clinical history to accurately diagnosis, monitor or rule out heart disease.

What happens during an echocardiogram?

An echo is performed by a cardiac sonographer. All of our sonographers are highly trained professionals who work closely with your cardiologist. As this is one of the most commonly required tests for heart disease, we offer this test at all our centres.

The sonographer will:

  • Ask you to expose your chest wall (a modesty sheet is provided) and lie down on the examination bed.
  • Attach small sticky dots to your chest which are used to attach the leads which record the electrical activity of your heart while you are having the echo.
  • Use a small handheld device called a transducer which uses sound waves to take pictures of your heart.
  • Apply a small amount of gel to the transducer before it is placed on your skin. This ensures that the highest quality images are captured. This may feel slightly cold. Sometimes you may feel slight pressure from the transducer but this is short lived. If it is too uncomfortable, please let the sonographer know.
  • The transducer will move around your chest over your heart until all the images your cardiologist requires have been captured.
  • Monitor a screen displaying the images of your heart as they perform the test.
  • Ask to hold your breath at points or change your position on the bed.

How long does this test take?

An Echo takes about 30-45 minutes to perform.

How do I prepare?

No specific preparation is required before an Echo is performed.

What are the risks?

An Echo is a safe, painless procedure which carries minimal risk.

What to wear?

The cardiac sonographer will need access to your chest, so it is best to dress in a two-piece outfit on the day of your test.

What to bring?

Please ensure you bring a copy of your referral with you.

My results?

If your echo is performed before a consultation with one of our cardiologists, or is requested by one of our cardiologists, the results will form part of the discussion you will subsequently have with your doctor. If your test if requested by another doctor, results will be sent back to them to feedback to you.