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What is an Echocardiogram?

An Echocardiogram, also known as an Echo, is an ultrasound scan of the heart which is used to assess both its structure and function and is carried out by specially trained Cardiac Physiologists.

An Echo uses ultrasound waves to produce images of the heart on a screen; the same technology used for performing pregnancy scans on unborn babies. The Echo Report produced by the Cardiac Physiologist allows your doctor to evaluate and monitor your heart’s health.

Diagram Key:

Routine Scan Area

Alternate Scan Area (as needed)

Why am I having an Echo?

Your Doctor may have requested you have an echo for any of the following reasons:

• If you are breathless or complain of certain symptoms during exertion
• To look for the cause of a heart murmur
• To check the size of the heart chambers
• To check for fluid around the heart
• To check that the muscles of the heart are the right thickness and are pumping correctly

We are unable to screen for known or suspected congenital heart disease please contact us urgently on 0333 202 0300 if you feel this may be relevant to you, this may result in your scan being declined on arrival.

Information about your appointment

Before your appointment

You do not need to make any special preparations for your echocardiogram. You may eat and drink normally before and after the test and continue to take your usual medication. Please bring a list as the Physiologist may need to know what medication you are taking. Please ensure that you have your height & weight measurements available for your appointment. If you have any questions or need advice, please contact us on 0333 202 0300.

Additional Support

If you need help because you speak a different language, or you would like a friend, relative or carer to come with you, please let us know when you book your appointment. If you need us to provide a chaperone, or require a clinician of a particular gender, please call us to arrange a suitable appointment.

The Examination

Your examination will be performed with you lying on a couch on your left-hand side. The Cardiac Physiologist will then attach 3 self-adhesive electrodes to your chest and apply ultrasound gel to a device called a transducer. This sends and receives harmless ultrasound waves. It will be pressed against your skin with moderate pressure to facilitate the transmission of the ultrasound waves. This can be uncomfortable but should not be painful.

Ultrasound images and audio recordings are acquired by moving the transducer around the chest, beneath the left breast, under the ribcage and neck. During recording, you may be asked to change position or hold your breath so that the best quality images can be obtained.

Unforeseen circumstances

It may be necessary to cancel your appointment at short notice due to matters which arise outside of our control. Please be assured, a member of our team will contact you at the earliest possible opportunity should we need to cancel your appointment. Please continue to attend your appointment as planned unless you hear otherwise.

Frequently asked questions

Are there any side-effects?

No – an echocardiogram is generally painless and harmless. However, some patients may find it slightly uncomfortable due to the positioning of the probe on the chest

How long will it take?

An echocardiogram will usually take between 15 to 30 minutes.

When will I get the results?

The Doctor who requested your echocardiogram will receive the report within 5 working days. Please note that the Physiologist with you on the day will be unable to discuss your results with you.

Please telephone your surgery to confirm that the Doctor has received your results before arranging an appointment, unless the Doctor has made different arrangements with you.

Do I have to consent to the procedure?

The information in this leaflet gives you an idea of what is involved in your echocardiogram. Before any medical procedure can be performed, the healthcare professional carrying out the procedure will
let you know what to expect. It is your right to be given all the information you need to make an informed choice about whether you want to go through with the procedure or not. Please feel free to ask any questions. You only need to agree to this examination verbally.

Is my personal information secure?

InHealth will keep the information you provide for internal purposes. We may also share the information you provide, (but from which you cannot be identified), with those responsible for meeting your treatment or expenses (or their agents) for research, statistical, educational, administrative, or contractual purposes (for example, audit and continuous improvement). This will include the National Health Service if you are an NHS patient.

What do I do if I have a complaint?

We take pride in the standard of service which we offer at InHealth. If you do have reason to complain, however, we take your comments seriously and a full complaints procedure is available upon request. Please ask a member of staff at the Centre who will be able to provide you with a copy.

Patient Information Leaflets

Whilst you will receive paper copies of our patient information leaflets in the post, you can also read them here and/or download them to your device if you wish.