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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Cardiothoracic Services

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Echocardiography

Cardiac Physiology Clinical Unit

The Cardiac Physiology Clinical Unit provides a wide range of direct patient procedures including:

  • echocardiography
  • electrocardiography
  • ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
  • cardiac rhythm management
  • nuclear cardiology imaging
  • rapid assessment of chest pain
  • support of cardiac angiography and interventional treatments.

Our patients can be any age, including newborn, and with all types of health condition - not only those with heart disease.

Find us and contact us

John Radcliffe Hospital

  • Outpatients Blue Area
    John Radcliffe Hospital
    Headley Way
    Headington
    Oxford OX3 9DU
  • Tel: 01865 220258

From the main hospital entrance follow the corridor past the main lifts. The Cardiac Physiology Clinical Unit is located on the right in the Outpatients Blue Area.

For maps of the hospital, information about transport and parking and contact details, please use the link below.

Horton General Hospital

  • Tel: 01295 229099

For maps of the hospital, information about transport and parking and contact details, please use the link below.

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram uses ultrasound (sound beyond our normal range of hearing) to produce pictures of moving heart structures and blood flow.

The procedure is carried out by a professionally trained clinical physiologist or specialist heart doctor (cardiologist). It is quite painless and there are no side-effects or risks from the sound energy used.

What happens during the echocardiogram

The echocardiogram will take place in a darkened room to help us to see clearly pictures of your heart on a screen. To enable the ultrasound to penetrate the chest it is necessary for you to undress to the waist. You will usually be asked to lie on your left side during the procedure, as this position provides the best views of the heart.

The operator will hold a device, which is coated in a harmless gel, directly and quite firmly against several positions on the chest surface. You will not feel the sound energy but you may hear the machine produce swishing noises. Pictures of your heart will appear on a screen.

We are not able to tell you in advance if your echocardiogram will be carried out by a male or female operator, but you may bring a friend or relative with you. If there are any issues that we should consider, please ask to discuss these, in confidence, when you arrive. If you would prefer a staff 'chaperone' to be present, then please tell the department at least one week in advance.

What happens afterwards

Doctors will use the pictures to find out what treatment you need. Either the hospital or your GP will give you the results.

Stress echocardiogram

This is like the test above, but during the procedure a drug is put into a vein in your arm to make the heart beat faster. Alternatively, you may have to take some controlled physical exercise on an exercise bike or treadmill.

Transoesophageal echocardiogram

This procedure is rather different. Pictures of the heart and blood flow are obtained by passing a probe through the oesophagus (food pipe). Patients are usually sedated.

Further information

If you have any questions please call us or ask a member of staff in the Cardiac Physiology Unit at the time of your appointment.

  • Tel: 01865 220258

British Heart Foundation have leaflets and information about heart investigations and heart conditions on their website.