Echocardiography, or cardiac echo, uses high-frequency ultrasound waves to evaluate the heart’s health in real-time, including heart shape, size and function, and valves and vessels for narrowing or incompetence. Echocardiography uses B-mode, M-mode, and spectral and colour Doppler to diagnose, manage and further evaluate patients with suspected or known heart disease.

Doppler shows blood flowing into the heart, through the four chambers and back out again. Ultrasound can show if there is any abnormal communication between the left and right side of the heart or blood leaking through the valves, and estimate how effectively the heart valves are opening. Multiple measurements are taken and compared to normal and abnormal ranges. For example blood velocity, wall thickness, area of regurgitation or valve stenosis can all be assessed and compared with the known normal range.


Before echocardiogram

The most common type of echocardiography is non-invasive and does not involve any preparation or fasting. Please remind patients to bring any previous cardiac imaging that might be relevant to enable a more comprehensive report.


During echocardiogram

A qualified cardiac sonographer will connect the patient to a simple heart monitor and then place a transducer over the ribs to assess the heart. The patient will be asked to roll into different positions, to ensure the best possible image quality. No radiation is involved in echocardiography and so people of all ages, including pregnant women, can safely have the test.

The study usually takes between 45 minutes and one hour.

South Coast Radiology provides echocardiography services at:

  • John Flynn Hospital
  • Pindara Private Hospital
  • Tweed Heads
  • Varsity Lakes (every Wednesday)


After echocardiogram

One of our radiologists will interpret the echocardiogram and provide a comprehensive report about the findings. Processing and reporting of the echocardiogram could take up to two hours. The patient will be advised to return to the referring doctor to discuss the results.

If you are a registered a referrer you can access your patient’s echocardiography images and report through our secure online archival system, or view the films we provide. For more information about registering to access patient images visit the Access Medinexus Portal section.