Echocardiogram factsheet

Introduction

An echocardiogram (also called a cardiac ultrasound or 'echo') uses sound waves to show how blood flows through the heart and how the heart is working. 

This provides information about the structure and function of the heart. The echocardiogram plays an important role in examining heart conditions and ruling out abnormalities in children.

 Before the procedure

It is important for the patient to lie still during the study to receive accurate results. We encourage parents to stay close to their young children to give reassurance and offer a bottle, snack or dummy when appropriate. 

If sedation is required (usually for children between 3 months and 2 years), it may be given by nasal spray or oral medication. 

A period of observation after sedation may be required. The supervising sonographer will discuss the details with you.

 During the procedure

An echocardiogram is completely painless. 

  1. A physician or technician uses a hand-held transducer (like a camera lens) to transmit and receive sound waves that are outside the normal hearing range
  2. The transducer is placed in contact with the chest in various positions to allow all parts of the heart to be seen
  3. A thick gel is used to assist transmission of the sound waves and improve picture quality
  4. The images will be processed on a video screen with sound or colour to assess blood flow circulation. 

Small ECG electrodes and special microphones may also be placed on the body to gather more details. 

The physician will ask the patient to change position from time to time to help see certain areas of the heart better.

 After the procedure

The doctor will inform you of the results of the scan when it is completed.

You should return to the doctor who referred your child for the echocardiogram because they know your child's medical history and other completed tests. 

Last updated Wednesday 10th July 2024

Disclaimer

This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024


This factsheet was produced with support from John Hunter Children's Hospital.