An echocardiogram is an ultrasound examination of the heart. Your child’s pediatric cardiologist may request this test in order to look for certain defects of the heart or problems of the strength of the heart. The test takes 20-45 minutes to perform. During the study your child will have three ECG stickers placed on the chest. Then a specialized technician (sonographer) will place the ultrasound probe directly on your child’s chest and record ultrasound pictures of the heart. In order to get the clearest pictures the sonographer will place a small amount of gel on the probe and the skin where the probe is placed. The gel is similar to hair gel and is painless. Pictures of your child’s heart will be taken from standard places on the chest, on the upper part of the belly above the belly button, and at the root of the neck above the collar bones. Sometimes the probe has to be pressed fairly hard in order to get the clearest pictures, but the discomfort from this is usually very mild. There are no known risks or side-effects of an ultrasound examination of the heart.
You can tell your child before the appointment that an echocardiogram might be ordered by the pediatric cardiologist and that the study does not hurt. Three stickers will be necessary, a small amount of gel will be used, and the lighting in the testing room will be darkened in order to get the best pictures possible.