Bubble contrast echocardiography
This is a procedure, usually performed as a day case to investigate a range of heart problems. Local anaesthetic is given to the throat and sedation can be used to ensure that the procedure is comfortable.
The ultrasound (echo’) probe is placed over the back of the tongue with the patient lying on the left side and lightly sedated. After a few swallows the tube can be advanced into the oesophagus. The oesophagus lies just behind the heart, so excellent pictures can be obtained of a range of heart structures, such as the atrial septum, the left atrial appendage, the aortic valve and the mitral valve.
The procedure takes about 20-30 minutes, and is not as bad as it sounds! The patient needs to avoid eating and drinking for 6 hours prior to the test, and for an hour or so afterwards (while the anaesthetic wears off in the throat). Most patients can leave the hospital within a few hours. Sometimes it can leave a little soreness in the throat, but this is usually very short-lived. Dr Turner will give you the result of the procedure immediately, although sometimes the images need to be discussed in the multi-disciplinary team, prior to a final treatment decision being made.
The insurance code is 64302 and if sedation is given some insurers use the code X3510 or AC100 to cover the sedation and local anaesthetic.