Echocardiogram (Echo) With Sedation (Infant and Young Children)
What is an Echocardiogram?
An echocardiogram (echo), or ultrasound of the heart, is a test that uses sound waves to create images 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 from exposure to ultrasound waves. The test takes 20 to 45 minutes and is done while the child lies in a comfortable bed with a warming pad. The test is painless and in order to get clear images of the heart, the child must stay very still. For this reason, it is common for children less than 3 years of age to receive sedation so they will sleep during the test. The sedation is given about 30 minutes before the test is done in the clinic. Chloral hydrate is the sedative usually used.
What is the preparation for an Echocardiogram for a child (less than 3 years of age)?
It is safer if children receive the sedation on an empty stomach. Please follow these directions if your child is less than 3 years of age and is scheduled here for an echocardiogram:
- Stop giving the child formula, milk, or solid food 6 hours before the test.
- Stop giving the child breast milk 4 hourse before the test.
- Stop giving the child apple juice, Pedialyte, or water 2 hours before the test.
- Do not give the child anything to eat or drink during the 2 hours before the test.
After the sedation is given by a nurse, a monitor probe is attached to the child's finger or toe. This monitor helps the nurse assess the child's breathing. After the child falls asleep, he or she is placed on a comfortable bed with a warming pad. Parents are encouraged to stay with their child through out the test. To do the test, a technician puts some scanning gel on the child's chest. The ultrasound probe, which looks a little like a microphone, is moved over the chest. The child's position is changed so that the technician can 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 to take some more pictures. This is standard procedure and does not mean that something is wrong. After the test, children stay in the clinic area until they have fully woken up. At this time, feedings can be resumed and the child can go home. Children are monitored in the clinic by a nurse until they are fully awake and ready to go home. After the test, parents are 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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