Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE)

A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is a diagnostic scan that uses echocardiography (ultrasound) to scan your heart and assess its function. If you're experiencing heart symptoms or concerns, a transthoracic echocardiogram can help our cardiac specialists provide you with a diagnosis. 

Enquiries & Appointments

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You can count on the UK's #1 private healthcare provider for the best possible outcomes. 

  • TTE test results sent within 48 hours
  • More than 20,000 echocardiograms performed per year
  • 99% of cardiac patients would recommend us to their friends or family
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Signs you might need a transthoracic echocardiogram

You might need a transthoracic echo to help find out why you're experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Breathlessness
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Feeling lightheaded and fainting (syncope)
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations (a fluttering or pounding feeling in the chest or neck)
  • Murmurs (irregular sounds made by blood moving within the heart)
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Swelling in the hands, feet, legs or belly
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
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Get quick access to a transthoracic echocardiogram

These symptoms indicate a wide variety of conditions, some of which could be life-threatening. So don't hesitate to book an appointment with a specialist, especially if you've had them for some time or they're getting worse. 

We can confirm your appointment within 24 hours and offer you a TTE or any other heart scans you need on the same day. We'll send you the results within two working days, and your consultant will explain what they mean and recommend the best steps to take next. 

Why choose HCA UK

Transthoracic echocardiograms from experienced hands

#1 in private cardiac care: We help over 26,000 cardiac patients per year – more than any other provider. This vast experience helps us deliver better outcomes for every individual, and 99% of people we've treated say they'd recommend us to family or friends.

Leading specialists: Our expert consultants are supported by subspecialty multi-disciplinary teams (MDT) who draw from a diverse range of backgrounds to find the most effective solutions for you. 

State-of-the-art imaging: Our private cardiac diagnostic network is the most comprehensive in the UK, featuring the most advanced imaging equipment. We invest continuously in the latest technology, so you can expect the highest standards whenever you visit us. 

Full treatment options: Whatever your TTE examination might turn up, we can offer comprehensive treatments through our private network. Your consultant will recommend the most effective options for you, ranging from lifestyle changes to medication and surgical procedures. 

Rapid access: We can confirm your cardiac consultant appointment within 24 hours and offer you a same-day transthoracic echocardiogram. We often provide immediate results, or will send you them within 48 hours. 

Common questions about transthoracic echocardiograms

What is a transthoracic echocardiogram?

A transthoracic echocardiogram (TTE) is an ultrasound scan that uses sound wave reflections to visualise your heart chambers and valves. 'Transthoracic' refers to the way the ultrasound waves are sent to your heart through the chest wall. This is the most common and least invasive type of echocardiogram (echo).

Cardiologists can use a transthoracic echo to test your heart's health, including:

  • How well it's pumping blood
  • The shape and size of its chambers
  • The function of its valves

A TTE may be used to investigate heart-related symptoms, make a diagnosis, monitor existing cardiac conditions, or check for damage to the heart muscle.

How does a transthoracic echocardiogram work?

A transthoracic echocardiogram procedure uses an ultrasound probe on your chest to send high-frequency sound waves to your heart through your body. The sound waves bounce off your heart tissue and create 'echoes' that show up as images on a computer display, showing what your heart looks like in real time. 

Sometimes a contrast agent (dye) is used to give more information on how well your heart is pumping or to look for blood clots in your heart. The dye is injected into a vein and travels through your body to the heart, where it shows up clearly in the echo images.

What conditions can a TTE help diagnose?

A transthoracic echocardiogram can help diagnose and assess several conditions, including the following:

What happens during a TTE examination?

Your consultant will take you through the following stages for your transthoracic echocardiogram. 

The exam team will direct you somewhere private, ask you to remove clothing from the upper half of your body and offer you a gown to wear instead. Then, they will attach small, sticky sensors (electrodes) connected to an ultrasound machine to your chest. These monitor your heart's rhythm and electrical activity during the scan.

Next, you'll lie on your left-hand side on an exam table, with your left arm above your head. This positioning helps to produce better images. Your cardiac sonographer (ultrasound expert) will apply a special ultrasound gel to your chest and press a small handheld probe (transducer) in various places across your chest. This is what emits the sound waves and picks up the echoes. 

A computer screen will instantly display images of your heart, which you and your consultant can view. They may ask you to hold still or breathe in certain ways to help get the best pictures possible.

After the exam team have had a good look at your heart and your TTE scan is complete, they will remove the sticky sensors from your chest and you can get changed again. 

Transthoracic echocardiogram FAQs

A transthoracic echocardiogram procedure is almost completely risk-free. Ultrasound waves are harmless and have no exposure risks, unlike X-rays or electrical current. 

You may feel some mild discomfort during a TTE scan, including the coldness of the lubricating gel against your skin or the pressing of the probe against your chest. The probe needs a certain amount of pressure to create clear images of your heart but the echocardiographer will only press as hard as is necessary. 

If a contrast dye is being used, there might be a slight pinch as it's being injected. There may be a small risk of reaction to the contrast dye, so ensure you tell your consultant before the test if you have any allergies. Possible side effects include headaches, rashes and anaphylactic shock. Reactions typically happen immediately in the test room, so rest assured that our teams will be on hand to help if any should occur. 

You don't need to do anything to prepare for a transthoracic echocardiogram. You can continue eating, drinking and taking any medications as usual. Your consultant will explain the procedure and answer any questions you have, so you have complete peace of mind before deciding to go ahead. 
The exact length of a TTE examination varies from person to person, but the procedure should last no longer than one hour.
You should be able to go home shortly after the TTE and your echo results will be available within 48 hours. Your consultant will analyse the results, explain what they mean to you and answer any questions you have. Depending on the results, they'll also advise you on the next steps such as follow-up appointments, further tests or treatments. 
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What other types of echocardiograms are there?

In addition to TTE, other types of echocardiograms can help your consultant diagnose your symptoms. These include: 

  • Bubble echocardiogram: A small amount of salt water (saline) containing bubbles is injected into your bloodstream before you undergo a transthoracic echocardiogram procedure. The bubbles appear on the images and help to highlight any holes present in your heart.
  • Transoesophageal echocardiogram (TOE): This type of echo scan takes images of your heart from inside your gullet (oesophagus), instead of from outside your body like with a TTE. This provides a clearer image, as the ultrasound waves don't need to pass through your skin, muscle or bone before reaching the heart. 
  • Stress echocardiogram: Your consultant may want to check how well your heart functions while working harder than usual or under 'stress'. They will give you special medicines or ask you to gently exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike, before performing a transthoracic echo as usual.
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Our experts in TTE scans and other heart tests 

We're delighted to work with leading cardiology experts who have years of experience using transthoracic echocardiograms and other heart tests to make diagnoses. They work closely with the cardiac units at each of our main hospitals, which support smaller cardiac teams at our outpatient centres. The teams are made up of cardiac nurses and physiologists who will talk you through your scan and answer any questions you may have. 

Use the consultant finder to view profiles and book an appointment directly. Alternatively, you can book an appointment through us, and we'll connect you with the right specialist.


Paying for your private TTE examination

You have several options when it comes to covering transthoracic echocardiogram costs, including paying through private medical insurance or paying privately. Mention HCA UK and your preferred consultant's name to your insurance company if you want to be seen by the UK's #1 private provider of cardiac care. If you'd rather cover the cost of your transthoracic echocardiogram through self-pay, we'll give you a transparent quote so you don’t have to worry about any unexpected fees. 

Our Transthoracic Echocardiogram (TTE) locations

The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Princess Grace Hospital

The Princess Grace Hospital

42-52 Nottingham Place W1U 5NY London
How to book an appointment

Request a cardiac appointment

We're here to help if symptoms or concerns about your heart health are affecting your daily life. Our team can help you book an appointment with one of our experienced consultants. Our cardiac specialists will be able to recommend the right tests to help you get peace of mind, whether that's a transthoracic echocardiogram or something else.