An echocardiogram (echo) is a specialized ultrasound test used to evaluate the structure and function of the heart. Children’s of Alabama has an Echocardiography Lab that offers all modalities of echocardiography. We have four Cardiac Sonographers and nine board certified Pediatric Cardiologists who perform and interpret these tests throughout the hospital on a daily (and nightly) basis. Our laboratory stores images in a high resolution digital format that allows easy retrieval and review for comparison to prior evaluations.
Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) is most commonly used to diagnose and follow patients with all forms of heart disease. With this type of echocardiogram, usually performed at the bedside, the ultrasound transducer (camera) is positioned on the chest and stomach to image the heart from the outside of the body. This painless and risk free test provides detailed information about how the heart is formed, whether there are any abnormalities of blood flow, and whether the heart is enlarged or weakened. Our group performs more than 13,000 transthoracic echoes every year.
Transesophageal echo (TEE) is performed with the transducer positioned through the mouth and within the esophagus, imaging the heart from within the chest. This test allows visualization of the heart during sterile procedures such as catheterizations and heart surgery. The risks are extremely low, but the test does require sedation that is coordinated by the intensive care or anesthesia service. Our group performs about 600 transesophageal echoes annually.
Specialized modalities of echo include intracardiac, epicardial, and fetal echo. These forms of echocardiograms provide images of the heart in unique circumstances. All are available at Children’s of Alabama.