Echocardiography Laboratory Services


Echocardiography is a noninvasive real-time imaging method used to examine children’s hearts for structural or functional irregularities. A form of ultrasound, echocardiography uses high-frequency sound waves directed toward the heart from a movable transducer that is placed in different positions outside the chest. The sound waves bounce off the child’s heart structures and are picked up again by the transducer, which sends them to a computer for instant analysis and the construction of still and moving images of the heart. Echocardiography is fast, painless, and harmless to the body’s tissues.

Parental echocardiogram

At the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center, we are piloting a tool that brings our doctors into your home virtually to perform an echocardiogram, with your help. If your child is a good candidate, you can avoid trips to our hospital while still acquiring high-quality test results. After you receive an hourlong on-site training, you learn how to work a portable, hand-held echo device yourself. You are then ready to perform subsequent echocardiograms at home under the supervision of a trained sonographer who is standing by, live. The high-quality images are shared with a pediatric cardiologist to review. You are informed of the results, and when needed, the doctor will arrange a follow-up telehealth consult to discuss next steps. Learn more about our tele parental echocardiogram.

3-D echocardiography

3-D echocardiography uses ultrasound to build data-rich three-dimensional images that accurately represent some formerly obscured features of the intact heart, such as the volumes of the cardiac chambers and the detailed positions and movements of valves.

Doppler echocardiography

Doppler echocardiography is another noninvasive ultrasound imaging method that uses the Doppler effect to evaluate the speed and direction of blood flow through the heart. Such velocity measurements reveal abnormal leaking of blood between the chambers of the heart or through the valves. Sometimes a harmless contrast media is injected into the blood to enhance the quality of the imaging.

Fetal echocardiography

Fetal echocardiography is used to identify and diagnose heart conditions in a fetus. The transducer is placed on the mother’s abdomen. Most expectant mothers do not have fetal echocardiograms, but if a routine ultrasound identifies a potential problem, a fetal echocardiogram may be ordered. This imaging method can detect nearly all serious congenital heart defects. Finding heart abnormalities before birth allows cardiologists and surgeons to plan for the best possible intervention and treatment as soon as the baby is born.

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) uses a small probe, known as an endoscope, with a transducer at the end. The probe is guided into the patient’s esophagus to positions in the chest close to the heart. Because the sound waves that produce the image don’t have to pass through skin, bone or muscle tissue before encountering the heart and blood vessels in the chest, the image they make is clearer than a typical echocardiogram. TEE is an excellent tool for appraising internal heart structures and blood flow in children with congenital heart disease. TEE is also sometimes used during heart surgery to guide and evaluate surgical cardiac interventions.

Vascular testing

Vascular testing includes carotid Doppler ultrasound, which provides imaging of the arteries to the brain, as well as specialized testing to evaluate the health of these and other arteries. This type of imaging helps us to monitor the blood flow in the arteries and assess cardiovascular risk in children.

Exercise stress testing and echocardiography

Exercise stress testing and echocardiography, during which we raise a patient’s heart rate on a treadmill and then make an echocardiogram, is a powerful diagnostic tool for children with chest pain, asthma, syncope, irregular heartbeat, obesity, high blood pressure, or congenital heart disease. It also helps us appraise the condition of a child’s heart and vasculature after surgery, including transplantation.