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Echocardiogram (Echo) (Child/Adolescent)

What is an Echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram (echo), or ultrasound of the heart, is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart. From this test, much can be learned about the heart's structure and the blood flow within the heart. There are no known risks associated with this test. It is painless and no special preparation is needed for older children.

How is it performed?

The test usually takes 20 to 45 minutes and is done while the child lies in a comfortable bed with a warming pad. The child needs to stay very still so that the pictures of the heart are clear. Parents are encouraged to stay with their child throughout the test and children can watch movies on TV. Once the child is lying down, the person doing the test, a technician or doctor, will put some scanning gel on the child's chest. An ultrasound probe which looks like a microphone, is moved over the chest. The child will be asked to lie in different positions in order for the technician or doctor to get all the views of the heart that are needed. The pictures are recorded for later review.

A doctor may come into the room to review the study or take more pictures. This is standard procedure and does not mean that something is wrong. After the test, parents are fully informed of the results and any questions are answered. A written report is also sent to the referring doctor.

2006: Information reviewed and approved by Laura Bell, RN, MSN, PNP Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and Lynda Dettling RN, BSN.


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