Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE)

Why is it done?

This is a simple bedside investigation using sound waves to visualize the main chambers of the heart. As a result heart and valve function can be quantified to diagnose cardiac failure or valvular heart disease for example. 

What does the procedure involve?

The test normally takes 20-30 minutes. The patient ideally is positioned lying on their left side with the left arm behind the head, in order to open up the rib spaces and bring the heart closer to the chest wall. Gel is applied to the chest wall and a probe is used to image the heart between the rib spaces. It is an extremely useful test that can be performed at the bedside, so is particularly useful in emergency settings, and also has the advantage of not using radiation.