Many children come to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health for echocardiograms. Our goal at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health is to provide your child with the best care possible. Our hospital has a large staff with extensive facilities to assist the doctor in meeting your child's needs. We know that this may be a new experience, and you may be anxious about what to expect. We wish to make you as comfortable and as informed as possible.
Your child needs an explanation of what to expect about his or her echocardiogram before coming into the hospital. This web page is prepared for parents to help explain the procedure and hospitalization and to answer your child's questions as they arise. We also find that if your questions are answered about the procedure, you may feel more comfortable about the visit. Your calm attitude and confidence will then be conveyed to your child.
We have included here a detailed discussion about the events that surround an echocardiogram. This section is for your information and will allow you to choose what to discuss with your child.
An echocardiogram is a study that your doctor may order that will allow him or her to better evaluate your child's heart. The echocardiogram uses high frequency sound waves ("ultrasound") to take moving pictures of the heart. It does not use X-rays or radiation. The echocardiogram can image the different pumping chambers of the heart. It also takes pictures of the heart valves and vessels. To see the blood flow inside the heart, color Doppler (similar to the Doppler used in the weather forecast on TV) is used. Doppler measurements are helpful to calculate the speed of blood flowing through the heart. This information can be used to assess narrowing or leaking of heart valves and other vessels.
Where to Go For Your Appointment
Most echocardiograms are performed in conjunction with a clinic visit with your child's cardiologist. You should report to the Cardiology services located in the Riley Outpatient Center, MSA 2, 2nd floor room 2270.
After this, you and your child will be directed to the Cardio-Pulmonary Diagnostic Center to have the echocardiogram performed. If your child is not scheduled for a clinic visit, you and your child should report directly to the Cardio-Pulmonary Diagnostic Center reception area located on the 2nd floor of the Riley Outpatient Center at IU Health, room 2340. Phone: 317.944.7984.
Upon arrival at the Cardio-Pulmonary Diagnostic Center, your child will be checked in. There is a comfortable waiting area where you can relax while the technician prepares the machine. Your child will then be called to one of the echo rooms. Parents are welcome to go with their child and watch while the echocardiogram is being performed.
What to Expect
The entire echocardiogram takes approximately 30 minutes to perform. During that time, your child will be lying down on a bed. The technician will apply some warm gel to your child's chest and will then hold a transducer (a special microphone) against your child's chest. Now you will be able to see pictures of the heart on a TV monitor.
The echocardiogram is a painless procedure. Your child will feel some mild pressure as the transducer is held against the chest. Occasionally, the technician will ask your child to roll to one side or the other. This is done to improve the quality of images of certain areas of the heart.
For young children who cannot lie still, it is sometimes necessary to give a medicine to make them a little sleepy ("sedation"). This medicine lasts for only 30-60 minutes. If your child requires sedation, his or her heart rate and breathing will be monitored during that time.
Once the study has been completed, the technician will wipe off the gel and allow your child to get dressed. Occasionally, one of the cardiologists specializing in echocardiography may want to get additional pictures of your child's heart before you are sent back to the clinic.