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Echocardiography for Children

What is echocardiography for children?

Echocardiography is an imaging test. It uses sound waves to make detailed pictures of the heart.

The test can be done in two ways.

  • Transthoracic echo (TTE). This method uses a hand-held wand called a transducer. The healthcare provider moves it across the chest over the area where the heart is. The transducer sends and receives sound waves that are changed into images.
  • Transesophageal (TEE) echo. The test may be done by passing a transducer down through the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube leading from the throat to the stomach. Because the esophagus sits right behind the heart, TEE provides better imaging detail than the transthoracic echo.
  • Intracardiac echocardiography (ICE). This type of echocardiography is done with probes as part of a cardiac catheterization and does not require general anesthesia as TEE sometimes does.
Most echocardiography is 2-D. Two views of the heart are used to create the images. Other types include:
  • Doppler. This shows blood flow through the heart.
  • Color Doppler. This shows color images to better see blood flow.
  • 3-D. This gives 3 views of the heart.
  • Stress echocardiography. This shows what the heart does under stress from medicine or exercise.

Why might my child need echocardiography?

Echocardiography is an important imaging test for heart problems in infants and children. It may help diagnose problems your child was born with (congenital). Or it may help diagnose a problem that has developed (acquired). Below are reasons for having echocardiography.

Congenital

  • Signs or symptoms that may mean a heart problem. These might be a bluish color of the skin (cyanosis) or a heart murmur.
  • Checking the heart because of other congenital problems
  • Family history of congenital heart disease
  • Other abnormal test results

Acquired

  • Infections or other conditions that may affect the heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeats

What are the risks of echocardiography for a child?

Echocardiography does not have any risks. If you child needs relaxation medicine (sedation), there may be a small risk for problems. If your child is having sedation, talk with his or her provider.

How do I get my child ready for echocardiography?

  • Your child won’t need to do anything special b