When there are symptoms of heart disease, an echocardiogram may be recommended to find out what’s wrong with the heart. Click here to schedule an echocardiogram in El Paso, TX.
What Is an Echocardiogram?
Has your child experienced an irregular heartbeat, leg swelling, shortness of breath or unexplained chest pain? If so, chances are your child’s doctor will recommend that he have an echocardiogram to help determine if heart problems cause their symptoms. Using high-frequency sound waves, echocardiograms (echo) provide a graphic outline of the heart’s movement. An echocardiogram test lets us evaluate the heart's structure, function and blood flow. This procedure can help detect the following:
- Where the supply of blood is blocked in a case of a heart attack
- Where the heart failed to pump enough blood in a case of a heart failure
- Where the heart walls are thickened or enlarged in a case of cardiomyopathy
- Where the heart walls are narrowed in a case of stenosis
- If there are birth defects that affect the heart
- If there is an infection in the lining of the heart
- If the blood is leaking backward through the heart valves
- Valve problems
Echocardiograms are done at a doctor’s office or a hospital. Echocardiogram tests at The Hospitals of Providence Children’s Hospital are done by our echocardiogram specialists called sonographers.
Types of Echocardiogram
An echocardiogram does not use radiation like X-rays and some other tests. There are several types of echocardiograms. Depending on what your doctor needs to learn about the heart, he will probably undergo one of the following types of echocardiograms:
- Transthoracic echocardiogram – the most common type of echocardiogram test. This involves putting gel in the chest and having a transducer across the chest while sending particular sound waves to the heart. These sound waves bounce back to the transducer, and the echo machine converts them to pictures displayed on the screen.
- Stress echocardiogram – this procedure is done as a part of a stress test. An echo stress test is a procedure where a patient is required to exercise or take medication to make the heart beat fast. While the heart is working hard, the echocardiogram test will take pictures of the heart.
- Transesophageal echocardiogram – this procedure is performed to give the cardiologist a more detailed picture of the heart. The transducer is attached to the end of a flexible tube, and the tube will be guided through the esophagus.
- Fetal echocardiography – commonly done at about 18-22 weeks of pregnancy, is used to check the baby’s heart before s/he’s born. This echocardiogram test is performed with the transducer across the mother’s belly.
- Three-dimensional (3D) echocardiography – creates 3D images of the heart and may be done as part of a transthoracic or transesophageal echocardiogram.
- Doppler echocardiogram test – uses sound waves to bounce off blood cells moving through the heart and blood vessels. A
- Doppler echocardiogram – is used during most transthoracic and transesophageal echocardiograms to measure the speed and direction of blood flow in the heart.
- Contrast echocardiogram – involves a harmless substance called a contrast agent injected into the bloodstream before the echocardiogram, which helps create a better image of the heart.
- Bubble echo – also called a bubble study, involves a traditional echo with an additional element – a small amount of salt called saline. The saltwater contains tiny bubbles, making it easier to photograph the heart and identify if there
is a hole in the heart.
Risks of an Echocardiogram
A heart echocardiogram is a standard and safe test. Although some may be uncomfortable, this procedure cannot harm or hurt you. It also doesn’t have side effects.
Questions to Ask Your Cardiologist
We understand that some would still be anxious to undergo an echocardiogram, so here’s a set of questions to ask your doctor to help you understand why you need to undergo specific procedures:
- What are you looking for in my heart?
- Why is this test the most suitable for me instead of another test?
- What happens if I do not undergo this test?
- Do I need to prepare for this test?
- When will I know the results?
- Who will explain the results?
- If my results are not typical, what is the next step?
Pediatric Echocardiogram in El Paso, TX
Please rest assured that your child is in great hands here at The Hospitals of Providence Children's Hospital. Our children’s echocardiogram in El Paso, TX is done with the child lying comfortably on the bed or an examination table. Infants undergoing echocardiogram procedures may lie on the parent’s lap throughout the test. For transthoracic echocardiogram, the process is the same with children, except the parents, are with the child.
Echocardiograms may last for 20-40 minutes, and younger children may require sedation. Additional preparation is needed if the child undergoes sedation, such as not eating or drinking for several hours before the procedure. Older children and teenagers usually don’t need sedation and may even enjoy watching the test, but to be sure and to avoid anxiety, please let the child know that the procedure will not hurt.
If sedation is not needed, no additional preparation is required, but here are a few pointers that may help:
- The scan will happen in the chest area, so it will help if your child wears loose-fitting clothing
- Please arrive a few minutes before your echocardiogram test appointment.
- If you have an infant, bring a bottle for feeding
- It may help if you have a movie or comfort item prepared in case the child needs a distraction
Offering the latest pediatric technologies, The Hospitals of Providence Children's Hospital seeks to maximize opportunities for positive outcomes through innovative treatment approaches developed specifically for children. And you can’t go wrong
with some of the most experienced and knowledgeable doctors and nurses in the medical field.
Get the right treatment for your child at Providence Children’s Hospital. Call 833-225-8751 for more information or find a doctor online.