Treatments and Services
Echocardiograms at Seattle Children's
Echocardiograms, which are also known as cardiac 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 heart doctor (cardiologist) or sonographer takes an echocardiogram of a child or a fetus to see how well the heart muscle is working and to check for heart abnormalities.
Your doctor might request an echocardiogram to evaluate a heart murmur or 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?
Seattle Children’s does a huge volume of echocardiograms on babies and children — more than 1,000 every month. Along with our partners at 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, also known as prenatal cardiac ultrasound, read by our cardiologists 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
Our cardiologists can interpret pediatric echocardiograms done far away from Seattle Children’s using telemedicine services. Studies are done at remote hospitals and then transferred to Seattle Children’s, where one of our pediatric cardiologists with expertise in echocardiography reviews the study and provides results and recommendations 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 their 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 reviewing a still image sent in the mail.
Seattle Children's Heart Center performs interpretations of over 1,400 echocardiograms per year by telemedicine throughout Washington state.
Who's on the team?
We have 27 sonographers registered in pediatrics – the most in the region. Dr. Luciana Young, director of the Echocardiography Laboratory, is a world-recognized pediatric cardiologist specializing in echocardiography.
Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a referral, a second opinion or more information.