An echo test uses high-frequency sound waves, which “bounce” off the heart to create a series of images. The images give cardiologists valuable information about the physical structure of the heart and how well it is working.
An echo test does not hurt, but there can be some mild discomfort from the wand that is placed on your child’s chest area. All testing takes place on the outside of the body.
The test takes about 30–60 minutes to complete. Parents can stay in the room with their child during the entire test.
A sonographer who has been specially trained for pediatric echo will do your child’s echocardiogram.
Your child may eat and drink as usual.
You should not use any cream, lotion, powder or baby oil on your child’s chest on the day of the test.
If your child is an infant or toddler, please do
not dress him or her in a “onesie” or one-piece undershirt with snaps on the bottom on the day of the test.
You may bring along a “comfort” item (such as a favorite stuffed animal or “blankie”) for your child to hold during the test.
If your child has a favorite video or DVD, you may bring it with you so he or she can watch it while the echo is being done.
You and your child will be taken into a small, darkened room.
Your child will be asked to remove his or her shirt. Older children will be given a gown.
- To begin the test, three wires will be attached to three small stickers (electrodes) placed on the chest.
- The sonographer will place gel on your child’s chest and then place the soundwave wand on the gel. The sonographer will move the wand to get the needed pictures of the heart.
- The sonographer may ask your child to lie on his or her side or back, or to change position, during the test.
- To get the clearest pictures possible, it is important for your child to stay calm and still during the test. Having parents nearby is usually comforting enough for children to relax.
- When the test is over, the sonographer will wipe the gel off and remove the wires and electrodes from your child’s chest.
- The sonographer does not give any results to the family; your doctor will review the results of the test and give you the information.
Younger children may become restless during the test. Because movement during the test can give poor pictures and make the test take longer, children who become restless may be given a mild medication to make them relax before or during the test.
If medication is given, a nurse will check on your child during the procedure. For safety reasons, you must stay at the clinic after the test until your child is fully awake and the medication has worn off.
The echocardiography team has pioneered the use of semi-supine staged bicycle ergometry to assess cardiac function and it has developed a technique to assess the biophysical properties of the aorta.
A number of research projects are carried regularly in the echocardiography laboratory. These research initiatives include the use of tissue Doppler echocardiography and other new modalities for assessing myocardial function.