A scan used to look at the heart and nearby blood vessels.
You can arrange to have an echocardiogram at a Spire hospital near you. We provide fast access to an extensive range of diagnostic tests and scans in our high-quality facilities.
An echocardiogram (also sometimes called a heart echo, echogram or echo test) is a special ultrasound scan used to help diagnose and monitor heart problems. It is different from an electrocardiogram (ECG).
During a standard echocardiogram (also called a transthoracic echocardiogram), an ultrasound probe is moved across your chest. The probe uses high frequency sound waves to create moving images, so your doctor can look at the structure and function of your heart and surrounding blood vessels.
Your GP or a doctor who specialises in treating the heart (a cardiologist) may refer you for an echocardiogram if they think there is a problem with your heart. An echocardiogram can help detect, monitor and plan treatment for the following heart conditions:
An echocardiogram can also check how well medical or surgical treatments of the heart are working.
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You will need a referral letter from a consultant or GP before booking any diagnostic investigation.
You will have a formal consultation with a healthcare professional. During this time you will be able to explain your medical history, symptoms and raise any concerns that you might have.
We will also discuss with you whether any further diagnostic tests, such as scans or blood tests, are needed. Any additional costs will be discussed before further tests are carried out.
A cardiologist or a technician called a sonographer will perform your scan using a device called a transducer, which sends out high frequency ultrasound waves. These waves will bounce off internal structures in your body, including your heart, creating echoes. The transducer will detect these echoes and send them to a computer, which will convert them into live images of your heart and its surrounding blood vessels.
For a standard echocardiogram, also known as a transthoracic echocardiogram, you will be asked to lie down. A cold, sticky gel will be applied to the transducer before it is then pressed against the skin of your chest, over your heart. This gel helps the ultrasound waves reach your heart.
The procedure is safe and although you may feel a slight pressure as the transducer is pressed against your skin, it is usually not uncomfortable.
An echocardiogram takes no more than an hour and you’ll be able to go home on the same day.
Your doctor may be able to explain your echocardiogram results during or immediately after the test. If they’re able to make a diagnosis, they can recommend the next steps in your personal treatment plan.
A standard (transthoracic) echocardiogram is a safe procedure with no known side effects as it doesn’t use any radiation, unlike CT scans and X-rays, but instead uses ultrasound waves.
As this is a minor test and you should be able to return to normal activities and go home on the same day.
We’re with you every step of the way through your recovery, even after you’ve left hospital. If you're having cardiac care with us, we'll book you an appointment to get the results of the test within a few days. Otherwise we will send them swiftly to your NHS doctors.
We will talk to you about the possible risks and complications of having this procedure and how they apply to you.
If you have any questions or concerns, we’re ready to help.