What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a specialized ultrasound scan of the heart. The scan can give accurate "real time" pictures of the heart muscle, the heart chambers, and structures within the heart such as the valves.

What does this involve?

An echocardiogram can be carried out for many different reasons. It may be done to check how well your heart is working after a heart attack, or to look at how well the valves are moving inside the heart. It can also help to see any fluid that may have collected around the heart. The test is painless and takes about 15-30 minutes.

The echocardiogram images are constantly updated during the examination, and so the scan can show movement as well as structure (for example, the valves of a heart opening and closing)/ The operator moves the probe around over the skin surface to get views from different angles. Some abnormalities can be seen quite clearly (for example, damaged heart valves, thickened heart muscle, some congenital heart defects, etc).

When will I recover?

Echocardiography can be carried out as an outpatient and you will be able to return home straight afterwards.

What risks should I know about?

There are no known risks as echocardiography is considered a completely safe procedure.