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Cardiothoracic Services

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Electrocardiogram (ECG) Services

An ECG is a simple but powerful diagnostic test in the assessment of your heart's rate and rhythm.

The test is quick and painless and takes between five and 20 minutes.

We place stickers (electrodes) on your body to record the electrical activity that makes your heart beat. These are usually on your wrists and ankles, with six more on your chest surrounding your heart.

The data from the test will either be uploaded to your electronic patient record or given to you on paper to take with you to your clinic appointment. We do not analyse or report on your ECG.

Preparing for your ECG

Please do not use moisturising soaps or moisturiser on your chest before your appointment as this can affect how well the electrodes stick to your chest.

Eating and drinking does not affect the test: you may bring cold drinks into the room with you.

Please follow the guidance you have bee given about your medications - we are unable to advise you.

Your ECG appointment

When you arive, we will explain the test to you. To have the test you need to remove all clothing from your upper body, including underwear, so we ask if you would like a chaperone present. We give you a hospital gown and a private area to change in, before and after your ECG.

When you have changed, we ask you to lie on a couch at a 45 degree angle. To ensure we get the best quality results, we use a finger-sized abrasive pad to remove any oils and dead skin cells that might prevent the elecrodes sticking to your skin.

We then attach the electrodes to pre-determined positions on your body. To find these positions we use our hands to feel for the spaces between your ribs. This does not hurt, and is necessary for the best quality results.

We then ask you to relax, with your arms and legs supported by the couch, while we record the ECG.

After we have finished we will remove the electrodes and you can get dressed.

Find us and contact us


John Radcliffe Hospital

Level 2 John Radcliffe Hospital (signposted from main entrance).

Tel: 01865 220258 Monday to Friday 8.00am - 5.00pm
(Answerphone out of hours)

Car Park 2 is on the same level as the department: from Car Park 1 please take the escalator or lift to Level 2.

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

How to find the John Radcliffe Hospital

Horton General Hospital

Near the Mayflower Suite, a short walk from the entrance on Horton View.

Tel: 01295 229765 Monday to Friday 8.00am - 5.00pm
(Answerphone out of hours)

How to find the Horton General Hospital


Last reviewed:18 January 2024