Echocardiograms at Seattle Children's
Echocardiograms, or ultrasounds, are used to look at the heart of a child or fetus as it works. It is a simple, painless procedure done in the same way that ultrasound pictures are taken of a fetus in a pregnant woman's womb.
We perform thousands of echocardiograms a year, including many conducted with a special live video hookup at several hospitals outside Seattle.
Why is an echocardiogram done?
A cardiologist or sonographer takes an echocardiogram of a child or a fetus to evaluate the function of the heart muscle and look for heart abnormalities.
An echocardiogram might be requested by your doctor to evaluate a heart murmur or for a number of other conditions. Echocardiograms enable doctors to make very accurate diagnoses of abnormalities in heart structure and function.
What's special about the experience at Seattle Children's?
Children's conducts at least 900 echocardiograms on children every month, a huge volume. Through our partnership with the University of Washington, we have access to the latest research on this important technology.
In addition to our routine pediatric echocardiograms, we provide a number of specialized services, including:
- Fetal echocardiogram, read by our doctors who specialize in diagnosing fetal heart defects
- Intraoperative transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE), performed during virtually all heart surgeries, and occasionally for other surgical specialties
- Echocardiography in our regional clinics
We also provide telemedicine services for the interpretation of pediatric echocardiograms. Studies are performed at remote hospitals and transferred to Seattle Children's, where one of the staff pediatric cardiologists with expertise in echocardiography reviews the study and provides results and recommendations for management to the referring provider. Telemedicine echocardiograms can be done for both outpatients and inpatients.
Telemedicine saves patients the expense and time of travel and can be of great value for urgent newborn evaluations.
Newborns with a suspected heart condition in Kennewick, for example, no longer need to be transported hundreds of miles away for a cardiac diagnosis. A child in Wenatchee with a heart murmur detected in a sports physical doesn't have to wait for his echocardiogram to be mailed to Seattle, or for a cardiologist's next regional visit.
Our doctors can diagnose much more accurately using a live echocardiogram than they can review a still image sent in the mail.
Seattle Children's Heart Center performs interpretations of over 1200 echocardiograms per year by telemedicine throughout Washington state.
Who's on the team?
We have eleven sonographers registered in pediatrics, the most in the region. Dr. Mark Lewin, director of the Echocardiography Laboratory, is a world-recognized pediatric cardiologist specializing in echocardiography.