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Echocardiography Service

Pediatric and Fetal Echocardiography

Fetal Echocardiography Service

The Pediatric and Fetal Echocardiography Service is staffed by cardiologists and specially trained cardiovascular technicians who are experts in echocardiography and its central importance to virtually every cardiac diagnosis. State-of-the-art cardiac ultrasound equipment enables diagnoses of the most complicated cardiac abnormalities non-invasively and safely in patients ranging in age from fetus to adult. In situations where younger toddlers cannot cooperate for a thorough study, tests are performed in our conscious sedation unit which is supervised by pediatric anesthesiologists and pediatric critical care nurses.

In addition to standard transthoracic echocardiography, transesophageal echocardiograms are available when clinically indicated. Congenital heart disease can also be diagnosed in the fetus, and a complete team approach is used to provide counseling for families and treatment for the fetus and newborn.

The Pediatric and Fetal Echocardiography Laboratory is also available for outpatient studies Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. These studies are arranged by appointment only, but emergencies are always accommodated. Inpatient echocardiograms are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) has been developed to solve one of the limitations of echocardiography, that is, the poor imaging quality seen in some patients in whom the bony structures as well as increased lung interface degrade the quality of the images obtained with conventional echocardiography. By placing an echo transducer at the tip of a gastroscope and advancing it into the esophagus, the heart can be imaged from behind without any lung or chest cage interference.

Additionally, the closer proximity to the heart allows for utilization of higher frequency transducers which provide higher resolution images. Transesophageal echocardiography has provided a new window through which the heart can be examined with far greater detail than was once thought possible. The mild inconvenience of having to pass a transesophageal probe has been by far outweighed by the enhanced images obtained with it. Presently, transesophageal echocardiography includes 3-D echocardiography, pulsed Doppler, and color flow imagings.

If your unborn baby has or is suspected of having a heart defect, close coordination among specialists is critically important. Our team works with your obstetrician and/or perinatologist to identify normal and abnormal heart structures and help plan evaluation and treatment of your baby's heart problem after birth. Early in-utero diagnosis offers you invaluable time to prepare emotionally and the time to make sound medical and financial arrangements for your baby's care prior to birth.