Having an echocardiogram: what you need to know

Depending on customer requirements (NHS Trusts, GP surgeries or independent healthcare providers), our echocardiographers will:

  1. Perform your echocardiogram
  2. and/or

  3. Report on your echocardiogram

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound procedure allowing us to produce an image of your heart’s structure and function. Ultrasound imaging procedures, which include pregnancy scans, are perfectly safe and are used throughout the healthcare industry to image soft tissue. They cannot image through air, lung or bone.

Preparing for your echocardiogram

We advise you to wear loose clothing for your appointment.

What will happen during your appointment

You will be asked to remove all upper garments and recline on your side upon the bed. A gown will be offered for your privacy. Three adhesive electrodes will be attached to record your heart rhythm. An ultrasound probe coated with a water-based gel will be placed on the chest wall.What is an echocardiogram?

  • Position 1 - parasternal - is as shown. It is near the sternum/breast bone.
  • Position 2 - apical - will be on your left side, just under the crease of the left breast.

Towards the end of the examination additional images may be obtained with you lying on your back from the ‘tummy’ (subcostal), or from the notch of the neck (suprasternal).

On rare occasions, images may be obtained from the right side of chest with you turned onto your right side.

The total scan time can vary but averages at around 15 minutes. On completion of the scan you will have the electrodes removed, be given some paper towels to remove the gel and asked to get dressed.

Results and report findings

After we have completed and finalised your scan report it will be securely transferred to your NHS Trust, GP surgery or independent healthcare provider so they can provide you with the results of your scan. Every provider is different and has varying wait times so unfortunately, we cannot say how long this will take.

We are unable to provide you with the results of your scan as this must be reviewed by your referring clinician together with your full clinical history and any other tests they may have referred you for.

For more information regarding your images and your results, please contact your NHS Trust, GP surgery or independent healthcare provider.