Cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) of the heart valves can be done at your first appointment, using a probe gently pressed onto the surface of the chest.
This is all that is required for most patients undergoing a heart valve assessment.
A small number of patients, however, may require more detailed heart valve assessment, such as with cardiac MRI, or transoesophageal ultrasound (TOE), where a small probe is swallowed down into the stomach under sedation and local anaesthesia.
TOE gives us extremely detailed images of the heart and allows direct assessment of the heart valve function. This is typically used in patients with an equivocal indication for cardiac surgery and can prove invaluable in borderline cases.