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What is an echocardiogram? (Echo)

An echocardiogram is a test that gives your Doctor information about the pumping action and the structure of the heart and its valves.

How is an Echo performed?
A recorder (probe) is placed on your chest and a pulse of high-frequency sound is passed through the skin of your chest. Lubricating jelly is placed on the probe to help make a good contact with the skin. The probe then picks up echoes reflected from various parts of the heart and shows them as an echocardiogram – a picture on a screen. You can see different parts of the heart as the probe is moved around on your chest. Recording these images is a skilful job and can take up to an hour. The test is carried out in a darkened room. You will need to remove your clothing from the waist up and to put on a gown. If you wish, you can have a chaperone with you during the test. This can be a relative, friend or a member of hospital staff. Please let the echo physiologist know if
you would like this. A copy of the Trust’s Chaperone Policy is available on request.

Risks and Complications
Occasionally, discomfort may be felt on your chest wall due to positioning of the probe whilst imaging the heart. There are no recorded complications of this test. You may eat and drink as normal before the test.

After the Echocardiogram
You should not experience any problems after the test and can carry on as normal. The results of the test will be sent to the Doctor who asked for the test. The Doctor will discuss these with you on your next visit with him. We will also send a letter to your GP telling him the results of the procedure and any further treatment you may need. If you have any questions about your Echocardiogram please phone the Cardiology Department on 01908 826672 (Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5pm).