Howan echocardiogram iscarried out

There are several different ways an echocardiogram can be carried out, but most people will have what's known as a transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE). This procedure is outlined below.

You won't usually need to do anything to prepare for the test, unless you're having a transoesophageal echocardiogram.

Transthoracic echocardiogram

Fora TTE, you'll be asked to remove any clothing covering your upper half before lying down on a bed. You may beoffered a hospital gown to cover yourself during the test.

When you're lying down, several small stickysensors called electrodes will be attached toyour chest. These will be connected to a machine that monitors your heart rhythm during the test.

A lubricating gel will be applied to your chest or directly to the ultrasound probe. You'll be asked to lie on your left side and the probe will be moved across your chest.

The probe is attachedby acable to a nearby machine that will display and record the images produced.

You won't hear the sound waves produced by the probe, but you may hear a swishing noise during the scan. This is normal and is just the sound of the bloodflow through your heart being picked up by the probe.

The whole procedure will usually take between 15 and 60 minutes, and you'll normally be able to go homeshortly afterwards.

Other types of echocardiogram

There are alsoseveral other types of echocardiogram that can be carried out. These include:

  • a transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE) where a small probe is passed down the throat into your gullet and stomach (your throat will be numbed with local anaesthetic spray and you'll be given a sedative to help you relax); you may need to avoid eating for several hours before this test
  • a stress echocardiogram an echocardiogram carried out during or just after a period of exercise on a treadmill or exercise bike, or after being given an injection of a medication thatmakes your heart work harder
  • a contrast echocardiogram where a harmless substance called a contrast agent is injected into your bloodstream before an echocardiogram is carried out; this substance shows upclearly on the scan and can help create a better image of your heart

The type of echocardiogram you will have depends on the heart condition being assessed and how detailed the images need to be.

For example, a stress echocardiogram may be recommended if your heart problem is triggered by physical activity, while the more detailed images produced by a TOEmay be more useful in helping plan heart surgery.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018