At the Children’s Heart Center, we offer echocardiography, or echo, which is a noninvasive, safe and painless way to examine the heart and surrounding structures. Through the use of harmless sound waves, images are obtained and visualized on a computer screen.
There are several components to an echo:
- 2-Dimensional – helps physicians visualize the heart as a multi-dimensional, moving structure, allowing all of the chambers, valves and arteries to be analyzed
- Doppler – shows the direction of blood flow through the heart, as well as analyze velocities
- M-mode – transfers 2-D images into graph form, allowing measurements to be made
What can my doctor learn from the echo?
A great deal of information can be obtained from an echo, such as cardiac anatomy, or how the heart developed. It can also detect:
- Abnormal or irregular structures that may cause a murmur
- How effectively the heart is pumping
- Chamber size and wall thicknessThe size and function of the heart valves
- Identification of defects in the walls, or septum, of the heart
How will the test be performed?
While your child lies down, a transducer, or microphone, with clear gel on the end is moved over his or her chest and stomach to obtain the ultrasound images. This is completely painless, though your child may feel pressure from the transducer on his or her chest and stomach. The entire test will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete.
How can I make my child more comfortable?
Your child can bring a video to watch while the test is being performed, or chose one from our collection. Parents may accompany infants and young children and are allowed to lie down next to them, hold their hand or feed them. The best images are obtained when your child is lying still and is quiet. Uncooperative children may sometimes require mild sedation. In that case, your child will need an empty stomach for four hours prior to the test and will need to be observed afterward until awake.
How will I receive the test results?
A cardiovascular technologist will perform the echo, which will be interpreted by a pediatric cardiologist within 24 hours. The results will be sent to your pediatrician, who will discuss them with you.
As part of Atlantic Health System Children’s Health, physician services are provided through Atlantic Medical Group and are on staff at Goryeb Children’s Hospital.