What heart tests are used for children?

Pooja Desai, MD
Pediatric Cardiology
Non-invasive heart tests we routinely do in children include:
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG), which will tell the child’s heart rhythm.
  • Echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the child’s heart that shows the heart chambers, valves, arteries and the heart function.
  • Stress test, which requires a child to run on a treadmill while his/her heart rhythm is monitored to see if the child has any arrhythmias.
  • Holter or event monitor, a portable heart monitor which record a child’s rhythm over 24-48 hours or even longer. They help us to identify any heart rhythm issues when the child is performing his/her routine activity at home.
  • CT scan of the heart or an MRI of the heart, which is used for complex cardiac conditions in which echocardiogram does not provide adequate information. 
 More invasive tests we may request, include:
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram, in which a tube with a camera at its tip is put in a patient’s mouth to evaluate the heart.
  • Cardiac catheterization in another answer is an invasive test, which can be used to diagnose as well as treat certain heart conditions.
  • Electrophysiology study is similar to a heart catheterization, but it is used to burn or freeze abnormal heart tissue that is causing the heart to beat too fast.
The common tests that are used in diagnosing heart disease in children are listed below. These same tests are used for adult patients who may have undiagnosed congenital heart disease and for adults who acquire heart disease later in life.
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Cardiac Catheterization/Angiogram
  • CT/MRI
  • Exercise/Stress Testing
  • Electrophysiology (EP) Study (Ablation Procedure)
  • Pulse Oximetry Screening

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