Royal Sussex County Hospital. Princes Royal Hospital. Hove Polyclinic. Sussex Universities

The Bubble Echocardiogram

What is a bubble echocardiogram?
A Bubble Echocardiogram is a routine echocardiogram study but which also uses harmless saline (salt water) bubbles.  This test is done to evaluate the correct flow of blood through the chambers of the heart and to identify or exclude a small hole in the heart. It can be especially helpful if someone has had a stroke or what is called a “TIA”, transient ischemic attack. The test helps your doctor to have a clearer picture of any heart defects and function.

How is the echocardiogram performed?
After the standard echocardiogram images are taken, an I.V. line is inserted in your arm by a doctor or physiologist.  A saline bubble solution is shaken in a syringe and then injected through the I.V. line while more images are taken. The introduction of these bubbles into your arm cause no harm but you may feel a cold sensation up your arm. This only usually adds a few minutes to the test and the procedure is virtually painless.


How safe is echocardiography?
The bubble study is extremely safe. There is a small risk of bruising or infection from the placement of the IV line.

When can I expect to receive the results?
Your consultant is not routinely present during the test and you may have to wait until your out-patient appointment to receive the results. If you do not have an out-patient appointment your consultant will write to your GP.

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