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Electrocardiogram (EKG)

At Children’s Health, only doctors who are specially trained in heart rhythm issues (known as electrophysiologists) evaluate EKGs. Each year, families across Texas rely on our experienced team to evaluate the results of their child's EKG. We read more than 20,000 EKGs from children of all ages each year.

What is an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a painless test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. For an EKG, we put electrodes – special adhesive patches – on the chest arms and legs. The test only takes about 10 minutes. You can stay with your child during the entire screening.

An EKG can tell us:

  • How fast the heart is beating
  • Heart’s rhythm
  • How each of the four chambers in the heart is working
  • Size of the heart chambers
  • Amount of blood that goes into the heart muscle

What are the benefits of an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

An EKG can help detect common heart issues, such as:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Abnormal electrical activity
  • High risks of arrhythmias in the future

It could also be used to:

  • Get a baseline measure of your child’s heartbeat
  • Test the effect of heart medications
  • Check the heart before and after surgery

What are the side effects of an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

An EKG is a very safe test with no known side effects.

What are the risks of an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

There are no risks to an EKG. During the test, we put small plastic stickers (called electrodes) on your child’s chest, arms and legs. It’s possible their skin might be slightly irritated after we remove the stickers.

What to expect with an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

What to expect before an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

Your child may eat and drink as usual. You should not use any cream, lotion, powder or baby oil on your child’s body on the day of the test because this could interfere with the skin-electrode connection.

What to expect during an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

The EKG is a short and painless test. Your child will be asked to lie still and flat on a bed. Small plastic stickers (called electrodes) are attached to your child’s chest, arms and legs. The wires connected to the EKG machine are attached to the electrodes. The EKG detects the electrical signals from the surface of your child’s skin and records them.

What to expect after an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

First, the wires are disconnected. Then, the stickers are removed from your child’s body. Our team will look at the results immediately and tell you what the next steps are. If the EKG reveals a problem with your child’s heart, another EKG or other diagnostic tests may be necessary. Any treatment will depend on what is causing your child’s heart issue.

What questions should I ask my provider about an Electrocardiogram (EKG)?

  • How long does an EKG take?
  • What kind of information can you get from the EKG?
  • How does it help determine my child's condition?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why would a child need an EKG?

    An EKG may be performed to get a baseline measure of your child’s heartbeat, to look for abnormal electrical activity that could cause an arrhythmia, to ensure heart medications are working or to check the heart after surgery.

  • How long do EKG results take to get back?

    We’re able to share the test results with you immediately after your child’s EKG. The test itself usually takes less than 10 minutes.