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Echocardiogram

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KEY POINTS

  • An echocardiogram is a test that uses sound waves and a computer to look at your child’s heart. It is used to help diagnose heart problems.
  • Ask your provider how long it will take to recover and how to take care of your child at home.
  • Make sure you know what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them.

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What is an echocardiogram?

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.

When is it used?

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:

  • How the heart is pumping
  • Blood clots in the heart
  • Muscle damage from a heart attack
  • Damage to heart valves from rheumatic fever
  • Heart problems you were born with, such as abnormal heart valves or holes in the heart
  • Tumors or growths inside the heart
  • Signs of infection inside the heart

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.

How do I prepare my child for this test?

  • Your child may or may not need to take his regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that your child takes. Ask your provider if your child needs to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • On the day of the test, have your child wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the test?

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.

What happens after the test?

After the test, your child can go home and go back to normal activities.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will get your child’s test results
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this test?

There are no risks from this test. If your child received a sedative, he may have problems with the medicine.

Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2016.4 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2016-08-05
Last reviewed: 2016-08-04
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright © 2016 RelayHealth, a division of McKesson Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.
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