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What is echocardiography?

Echocardiography is a procedure used to assess the heart's structures and function. Echocardiography is also called echo, cardiac ultrasound or ultrasonography, cardiac Doppler, transthoracic echocardiography, or TTE. A small probe called a transducer is placed on your child's chest and sends out ultrasonic sound waves at a frequency too high to be heard. When the transducer is placed on your child's chest in certain locations and at certain angles, the ultrasonic sound waves move through the skin and other body tissues to the heart tissues, where the waves bounce (or "echo") off of the heart structures. The transducer picks up the reflected waves and sends them to a computer. The computer interprets the echoes into an image of the heart walls and valves.

What are the different types of echocardiography?

An echocardiogram can utilize one, or more, of four special types of echocardiography, as listed below:

What problems can echocardiography diagnose?

Several diseases of the heart may be detected by echocardiography, including the following:

How is an echocardiogram performed?

The test may be done in a cardiologist's office, in a clinic, at a hospital or medical center as an outpatient, or as an inpatient in a medical facility. In most cases, you will be allowed to stay with your child to provide reassurance during the procedure.

In order to obtain clear pictures, it is important for children who are old enough to cooperate to try to hold still during the echocardiogram. Parents can usually be involved in reassuring and encouraging their child during the procedure. However, an echocardiogram can be a lengthy procedure. Younger children may become restless during the test, preventing clear images from being achieved. For this reason, young children may be given a medication (sedative) to help relax them during the echocardiogram. A nurse will monitor the child during the procedure if sedation is administered. For safety reasons, you will need to remain at the echo clinic until your child has woken up fully and the medicine has worn off.

Depending on the results of the echo, additional tests or procedures may be scheduled to gather further diagnostic information.

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Online Resources of Cardiovascular Disorders

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