Pediatric Echocardiography (Echo)

Echocardiography (Echo) is a painless, fast test that makes images of your child’s heart. It shows us how the heart is structured. These pictures (called an echocardiogram) will help us diagnose a potential heart condition or treat one that already exists.

The echocardiography team at Children's Health℠ performs 12,000 echocardiograms each year, significantly more than most hospitals in our region. We can usually get you the results back to you on the same day.

What is Echocardiography (Echo)?

Echocardiography uses sound waves to create images of the heart. Sometimes, it is combined with a Doppler ultrasound that uses sound waves to measure the blood flow’s direction and speed. This combination shows us how your child’s heart is structured and how it’s working. Your doctor might recommend your child have an echocardiogram if they have:

  • Heart murmur
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or fainting
  • Abnormal ECG
  • Heart palpitations
  • A pre-existing heart condition, or other conditions that affect the heart
doctor with portable ECMO machine

What are the benefits of Echocardiography?

The images produced during an echocardiogram let us see what is happening in your child's heart. They help us diagnose your child's condition and come up with a treatment plan.

What are the side effects of Echocardiography?

Echocardiography is considered very safe. There are no known side effects.

What are the risks of Echocardiography?

Unlike other imaging procedures, echocardiography doesn't use radiation. There are no known risks.

What to expect with Echocardiography?

A sonographer, who is a medical professional who does the echocardiogram, will introduce themself. They’ll ask if your child has a favorite movie, TV or cartoon they’d like to watch during the test.

Then, they’ll ask your child to lie on the bed. The lights in the room will be dimmed. Your child will lie on top of a bed that has a warm blanket on it. You can lie on the bed with your child or you can sit in a chair next to your child.

Next, the sonographer will put some gel on your child’s belly and chest. This gel helps the sound waves go back and forth from the echocardiogram wand to the heart. Tiny metal stickers (called electrodes) are put on the chest to measure the heartbeat.

We can stop the test at any time if your child needs to use the bathroom or wants a break.

Your child’s cardiologist will go over the test results with you about an hour after the echocardiogram is completed.

How do I prepare my child for Echocardiography?

You can tell your child that an echocardiogram is a way to get pictures of their heart. The test does not hurt. It only takes an hour. You can tell them they’ll get to watch their favorite movie, TV or cartoon during the test.

What questions should I ask my provider about Echocardiography?

  • Will my child be exposed to any radiation?
  • When will we know the results?
  • Does it hurt?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why would a child need an echocardiogram?

    A child might need an echocardiogram if they have:

    • A heart murmur
    • Chest pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Heart palpitations
    • A pre-existing heart condition
  • How long does an echocardiogram take for a child?

    An echocardiogram takes about an hour. The results will be available about an hour after the test.