Bubble Echocardiogram

Also called a bubble saline contrast echo or bubble study. 

This is a test that can help identify a hole in the heart called a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO).  A PFO is a normal flap valve opening that occurs in the wall (atrial septum) of the heart that separates the right atrium from the left atrium (the top two heart chambers) while in the womb. This flap usually closes spontaneously following birth.  In a quarter of people it stays open and can intermittently allow blood flow to pass from the right atrium to the left atrium.

What is involved?

Pictures are taken of the heart in the same way a normal echocardiogram is performed.  A small thin plastic tube (a cannula) will be inserted into a vein in your arm. A small amount of sterile salty water (saline) will be mixed with a small amount of your own blood and then injected into the vein in your arm.  The salty water contains tiny harmless bubbles which can be tracked on the echocardiogram scan revealing any potential abnormal flow.