Echocardiography

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of your heart.  It is a frequently used test to assess both the structure and the function of your heart in a wide range of cardiac conditions. 

A key feature of assessment of an echocardiogram is the left ventricular ejection fraction (the measurement of the pump function) but there a whole host of other things that an echocardiogram assesses.  These include: assessment of variation in wall motion in the left ventricle which can suggest problems with blood flow through the coronary arteries, valvular problems like stenosis (narrowed valves) or regurgitation (leaky valves), problems with the right ventricle and evidence of shunting (abnormal connections between chambers) or other inherited cardiac conditions.

An echocardiogram is performed lying on your left side with several electrodes attached to monitor your heart rhythm.  The probe is applied to several different positions on the chest with some ultrasound gel.  It is performed by a sonographer and takes around half an hour. Some patients will need repeat echocardiograms to monitor their heart condition over time.