What is an echocardiogram?

Commonly referred to as an “echo”, this test is an ultrasound of the heart.
High frequency sound waves are used to produce images of the heart valves and chambers so that doctors can see how your heart is functioning.

Why do I need to have an echocardiogram?

Your doctor may request this test to investigate signs or symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, palpitations or swelling of the legs.

If your doctor detects a heart murmur during an exam, they may request an echo to see how well the heart valves are functioning or whether they have trouble opening and closing.

This is a painless, non-invasive test.

Our echocardiograms are performed by qualified, highly experienced cardiac Sonographers.

A hand-held transducer with a cool, water-based gel is held against your chest wall. The transducer sends out soundwaves (ultrasound) that identify different structures of your heart. The soundwaves are converted into moving images on a monitoring screen. These images show the heart pumping as well as the speed and direction of blood flow through the heart and its structures.

Can I eat or drink before my test?         
There is no special preparation required. You can eat and drink as usual before the test. You do not need to fast.

Do I take my medications on the day of the test?
Take all your normal medications as usual before the test.

Where do I go to have the test?
Peninsula Heart Centre transthoracic echocardiograms are available daily (including after hours and weekends) at the following sites:

  • Frankston Suite 11, Peninsula Private Hospital, 525 McClelland Drive, VIC
  • Mornington Suite 7, Beleura Private Hospital, 925 Nepean Highway, VIC
  • Rosebud Suite 8, Peninsula Medical Suites, 1533 Pt Nepean Road, VIC
  • Albury 1142 Pemberton Street, Albury NSW 2640

On arrival, please present yourself at the Reception desk.

What do I need to bring?
Please bring your Medicare Card and the Referral Letter from your doctor (if not already faxed).

What do I wear?
You will need to wear a loose-fitting top, which will need to be removed during the test. You may be asked to change your top for a hospital gown.

How much will it cost?
All echocardiograms at the Peninsula Heart Centre are bulk billed.

What happens during the test?
You may need to remove all of your garments from the waist up, and put on a hospital gown.

You will be asked to lie on your side on an exam table. 3 small, sticky ECG electrodes with wires will be attached to your chest to monitor your heartbeat.

The sonographer will put some water-based gel on the end of an ultrasound (transducer) wand. The gel may feel a little cold but, otherwise, you should not experience any major discomfort during the test.

The transducer will be placed firmly against your skin at various positions on your chest throughout the test. This enables soundwaves from your heart to be converted into moving images on the monitoring screen.

Numerous measurements and images will be recorded. During the procedure, you may be asked to change your position and to hold your breath. It is important that you lie quietly and stay as relaxed as possible.

How long does the test take?
The test should take no more than 30 minutes.

 What are the risks?
There are no known risks involved in a standard echocardiogram. An echo does not emit radiation. However, patients may experience some discomfort if the ultrasound probe is pressed firmly to obtains a good image.

When will my results be available?
Our cardiologists will report the test results promptly and the results are made available to referring doctors within 24 hours.  A copy will be placed in your medical history.

You will need to organise an appointment with your doctor, who will have a discussion with you about your results. The cardiac sonographer will report any new or urgent results to the medical staff on the day, to expedite your appointment.

Patient consent form

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Download here and bring the completed form to your appointment.

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