An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) and a computer to look at your child’s heart. The pictures created during the test show your child's heart as it is beating, like a movie instead of a snapshot.
This test is used to check the size, thickness, and movement of your heart, and how well it pumps. An echocardiogram is used to help diagnose heart problems such as:
This test may also be used to check how well treatment is working, such as medicine to dissolve blood clots or help the heart pump better.
This test takes about 45 minutes. An older child will usually lie on an exam table on his side. A baby or young child may sit on your lap. If your child moves a lot or is very nervous, a mild sedative can be given before the test to relax your child.
A gel is put on the skin of your child’s chest to help transmit the ultrasound waves. A handheld device, called a transducer, sends high frequency sound waves through your child’s chest to the heart. The sound waves bounce, or echo, off your child’s heart. A computer converts the echoes into pictures of the heart.
The technologist moves the transducer to several places on your child’s chest, and may ask your child to breathe a certain way or hold his breath. In some cases the technologist may inject dye through an IV to show your child’s heart more clearly.
After the test, your child can go home and go back to normal activities.
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
There are no risks from this test if your child does not have a sedative or an IV and dye. If your child received a sedative, he may have problems with the medicine. Your child may also have an allergic reaction if dye is used.
Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.