Tests

Tests and build up 

Before the heart team can decide which treatment is better for you, a number of tests need to be performed, these are explained below.

Echocardiogram

This is a type of ultrasound scan which helps the team to make careful measurements of the heart valve. A small probe is moved around the chest and sends out sound waves that create echoes when they bounce off different parts of the body. These echoes are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image on a monitor while the scan is carried out.

Some gel will be applied to your chest or directly to the ultrasound probe. You’ll be asked to lie on your left side and the probe will be moved across your chest.

The test takes 15 to 30 minutes and is usually carried out at a hospital or clinic by a cardiologist or a trained specialist called a cardiac physiologist.

Angiogram

Sometimes called  cardiac catheterisation.  This is performed by a cardiologist and involves taking X-rays of the heart’s arteries. A small tube is passed from the wrist or groin to allow dye to be injected into the heart arteries whilst a series of x-ray pictures are taken. It takes about 30 to 60 minutes but you will be required to be in hospital for most of the day.

CT scan

This is a special x-ray which is carried out in hospital by specially trained operators called radiographers, and can be done during a short visit to hospital. The CT scan can produce detailed images of many structures inside the body including bones and internal organs, in particular this scan gives important information about the blood vessels, heart and heart valve.

Sometimes more detailed scans and tests need to be performed such as breathing tests and more detailed imaging of the heart. If this is the case it will be discussed with you.

Once all the tests have been completed, all the images will be reviewed by the heart team. This is a group of qualified healthcare professionals who work together to decide on the most appropriate treatment for each individual patient.