The Parent's Guide to an Echocardiogram ( Ultrasound of the Heart)


How to Prepare for an Echocardiogram

By: Lesley Bolden BS, RDCS (AE, PE) RCS

With pediatric patients the most valuable thing to remember about an echocardiogram is that there are no shots or needles involved, it is not painful-as I often say "No Ouchies".  

The process is simple and painless and is typically over within 30 minutes.

The patient lies on the bed or in the arms of a parent or guardian as the sonographer applies some gel to their chest and glides a probe around capturing the necessary images and data.  

Keep in our mind for our older patient that while we do provide some covering they will be somewhat exposed so we advise that to limit the family members in the room during the study for the child's privacy.  However anyone under the age of 18 years will need at least one parent/guardian in the room during the study. 

Age appropriate movies are provided during the examination and parents/guardians are welcome to play videos on their own devices as well as bring snacks and toys of their own for use during their visit.  As soon as the procedure is finished the patient's chest will be wiped clean and their shirt is put on for the remainder of their visit.  

The Cardiologist will explain all testing results, including the echocardiogram, with the patient and family/guardian during this same visit.

During the test you will notice pictures of the heart on the screen sometimes with color and sounds.  The blue and red colors simply tell us the direction that blood is moving, it is not blue blood and red blood. 

It is very tempting to ask the sonographers performing the test what they think about the pictures.  However we have instructed our sonographers not to provide results.  Our sonographers are incredibly skilled, but the Pediatric Cardiologist has received the advanced training needed to make a complete assesement of your child.  The Cardiologist will need to review the entire, completed study and put this into the context of your child's condition to provide you an explanation.  This way you receive one explanation of your results.  

We know parents / guardians may want to take pictures of the echocardiogram as it is being performed.  However, HIPPA rules do NOT allow for photographs of a patient's study in order to protect patient privacy.  We cannot allow exceptions for this rule.