The American Family Children's Hospital pediatric heart care specialists treat infants, children and adolescents with heart-related conditions. During the course of treatment, the cardiology staff may perform a routine, non-invasive procedure called an echocardiogram.
An echocardiogram, sometimes called an "echo," is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The picture is much more detailed than x-ray images and involves no radiation exposure.
The echocardiogram allows doctors to see the heart beating and to visualize many of the structures of the heart. It is a very good test for detecting structural heart disease in patients that a physician is concerned about.
Preparing for the Echocardiogram
To make your child feel relaxed, please bring along any toys or other objects your child finds comforting (special blanket, stuffed animal, snacks, pacifier, bottle, etc.). You can also bring DVDs for your child to watch during the exam.
Children will be asked to remove their shirt for the exam. Young girls will be given a hospital gown to wear during their test. For infants and toddlers, please bring bottles with milk or juice and snacks, favorite toys and/or DVDs that may help make them comfortable during the exam.
How the Test is Performed
In the Pediatric Cardiology Clinic, children are brought into a special Echo Room where the lights can be dimmed during the test. Parents can be with their child throughout the process. Three electrodes will be placed on the child’s chest. A trained sonographer will then use an instrument called a transducer to perform the test.
In order to obtain images, a special gel is placed on the transducer, which helps the transducer glide across the child’s chest. The transducer transmits and receives high-frequency sound waves (echoes). The echocardiography machine converts the data that is received into moving pictures of the heart.
How the Test Will Feel
The test is painless. Children will be asked to stay as still as possible. For especially young children, parents may be asked to sit with them. There is a television for patients to watch during the test and a special “starry sky” above them. The test will take approximately 30-60 minutes.
The echocardiography sonographer performing the exam cannot give you the results right away. If your child has a clinic appointment in Pediatric Cardiology, you will learn the results of the echocardiogram that day. Otherwise, the pediatric cardiologist will send the results to the health care provider who ordered the echocardiogram by no later than the next business day. Your healthcare provider will contact you with the results.