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A transthoracic echocardiogram is a painless, non-invasive heart scan performed by transmitting ultrasound waves through the chest to assess heart muscle and valve function. This test is important to diagnose many conditions including heart failure, cardiomyopathy, previous heart attacks, valve disease and congenital heart disease.

Transthoracic echocardiogram- apical long-axis view

A patient is asked to lie on their left side, semi-reclined, for approximately 20-30 minutes. Initially, several different views of the heart are acquired in order to make detailed measurements of heart chamber sizes, pumping and relaxation function, and doppler assessment to assess blood flow across heart valves.

A transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE) is sometimes required, particularly to further assess certain heart valve abnormalities or valvular infection called infective endocarditis. This is performed by passing a small tubed ultrasound probe into the food pipe (oesophagus) behind the heart, under local anaesthetic and controlled sedation.

Echocardiography findings may lead to recommended prescribed medication, procedures such as coronary angiography or heart rhythm device insertion, and heart valve surgery.