Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"Can my child have an echocardiogram?"
Is four years old too young?
Echocardiograms come in 2 different types, speaking in simple terms. There are those that are performed on the outside of the chest wall (a trans-thoracic echocardiogram or TTE), and there are those that are placed by positioning an ultrasound probe in the esophagus (a trans-esophageal echocardiogram or TEE). Your doctor may decide on either depending on his need to visualize the details of the heart. Usually, the TEE provides the best picture, but it is obviously not tolerated as well and has more risks because the probe has to go down the esophagus. Fortunately, both types utilize ultrasound technology, which has not been found to have any long term risks. It is similar imaging technology to what is used during a pre-natal ultrasound. Your doctor may advise an echocardiogram of either type depending on his or her need to understand what is happening with your child's heart, and potentially to plan any therapy that might be needed. Sometimes these are used to rule out the presence of a condition as well. They are extremely helpful at understanding how the heart is working, and they are both well tolerated and safe when done by skilled hands. You can discuss this in more detail with your doctor as needed.
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