Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE)

What is a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE)?

A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is a non-invasive, safe and painless diagnostic test that uses ultrasound (high frequency) waves to record images of the heart and its various structures, including the heart chambers and valves. It shows the beating heart with blood circulating through it.

The images allow your doctor to find any heart abnormalities and assess the pumping function of your heart.

How it works

The procedure involves the following steps:

  1. The sonographer spreads gel on the transducer.
  2. The transducer is pressed firmly against your skin to aim an ultrasound beam through your chest into your heart.
  3. The transducer records the sound waves that echo from your heart.
  4. A computer converts the echoes into moving images on a monitor.

You may need a small amount of an enhancing agent injected through an intravenous (IV) line if your lungs or ribs block the view. The enhancing agent will allow your heart's structures to show up more clearly on a monitor. The agent is usually safe and well-tolerated.

Differences between a TTE and transoesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

The TTE is more common than the transoesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), which is an invasive procedure. The differences are explained below.

Transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) Transoesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
More commonly used Less commonly used
Non-invasive Invasive
Visualisation of the heart structure may be blocked by scarring, excess body tissue, or collapsed lung Better visualisation of the heart structure
No preparation needed Fasting is required 6 hours before the test
No anaesthetic required A local anaesthetic will be used to numb your throat
No sedative required A sedative will be given to help you relax
Usually takes less than an hour Can take up to an hour and a half
Can resume your normal daily activities immediately after Need to be kept under observation for a few hours before resuming normal daily activities

Your doctor will choose the type of echocardiogram you receive depending on the nature of your heart problem.

Why do you need a TTE?

The images produced by the TTE will allow your doctor to find, evaluate and monitor any functional and structural abnormalities of your heart, such as:

  • Damage to the heart muscle caused by a heart attack
  • Infection on or around the heart valves
  • Fluid around the heart
  • Hole in the heart
  • Heart murmur
  • Tumours

It also allows your doctor to assess if your heart is pumping blood properly and if the valves are working normally.

A TTE can also detect congenital heart disease (heart disease present at birth) and the source of a blood clot after a stroke.

What are the risks and complications of a TTE?

There are no risks involved in a standard transthoracic echocardiogram.

You may feel some discomfort from the transducer being pressed very firmly against your chest. This is necessary to produce the best images of your heart.

Why choose Gleneagles Hospital?

At Gleneagles Hospital, our team of cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons are known in Singapore and the region for their expertise in treating complex heart conditions.

Our skilled cardiovascular team ensure that patients undergoing TTE receive an accurate diagnosis and good care.

Our cardiologists

At Gleneagles Hospital, our specialists are experienced in performing diagnostic tests such as trans-thoracic echocardiograms to get an overview of your heart health.

Please check with your insurance provider for more information, and for their most up-to-date list of panel doctors.

^Specialists may qualify to be on the Extended Panel (EP). You may enjoy selected panel benefits depending on your policy and riders.
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