Echocardiogram (Echo)

What is it?

An echocardiogram or ‘echo’ is a scan that uses ultrasound (sound waves) to produce pictures of the heart. The test is painless and without side effects. It does not use radioactivity.

Below is short video from the British Heart Foundation showing you what happens during an echocardiogram.

Why is it being done?

An echocardiogram gives your doctor information about how well the heart pumps and whether your heart valves are working properly.

What does it involve?

Upon arrival to the Cardio Respiratory department you will be asked to use our changing facilities and undress to the waist.  A clean gown will be provided and we ask that you put this on with the opening at the front; the gown wraps around and fastens to keep you covered.  You may bring a dressing gown with you to put on over the gown if you wish to.  There are baskets available for you to place your clothes and belongings into.  You will then be asked to take a seat outside the echo rooms with your belongings.  Your height and weight will be recorded before you enter the echo room, this will be kept confidential but it is vitally important for the test. The person performing the test may be male or female and will usually NOT be a doctor. This means that some questions you may have about the result may have to wait until you see your doctor in clinic. Test results will not be given to you immediately after your test.

Cardiorespiratory have both male and female physiologists working in the echocardiogram service.  If you prefer a specific gender to perform your echocardiogram, or you require a chaperone to be present during this test, please inform the department upon receipt of your appointment letter so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Stickers will be attached to your chest and connected to the machine. These will be used to monitor your heart rate during the test.

An ultrasound probe covered by a small amount of gel is placed gently on the centre of your chest and will be moved to different positions – beneath the left breast, beneath the rib cage and to the base of your neck. This provides images of your heart from a number of different angles which are then recorded.

During the echocardiogram you will hear sounds coming from the machine, which represent blood flow through the heart.

The echocardiogram will take approximately 20 – 40 minutes to complete.

There are no special precautions that you need to take before the echocardiogram. You can take all your medication as normal. You can eat and drink as normal.

At the end of your echocardiogram please notify the staff if you have any other tests.  The echocardiogram will be reported on the same day and results sent to the requesting clinician.