Preparing your child for an ECHO

February is American Heart Month, and Parkview’s Child Life Specialists are taking the opportunity to offer parents important pointers on how to prepare their children for and nurture them through a common cardiology screening.

We cannot stress enough the importance of the recommended Child Well visits. If, at one of those exams, the physician refers a child for a consult with a Pediatric Cardiologist, one of the most common and non-invasive studies that is ordered is an Echocardiogram (ECHO).

One of the roles of a Certified Child Life Specialist is to appropriately prepare children and families for medical procedures in a way that they fully understand and then have more control over the situation. The preparation and collaboration with parents contributes to the success of a medical test or procedure. Below are some key things to be aware of for some of the most common and non-painful (other than sticker removal) methods used to check on a child’s heart.

An ECHO is a computerized picture of the heart. The use of sound waves that echo or bounce off the heart creates an image. The image gives the cardiologist information about the physical structure of the heart.

Quick tips:

  • The test typically takes about 30-60 minutes
  • The test is completed all on the outside of the child’s body and should not create any pain
What to expect during an ECHO

Walking through the procedure can be incredibly beneficial. Here are the steps you can share with your child prior to the big day: 

  1. You and your child will be taken into a small, slightly dark room.
  2. Depending on the age of the child, he or she will take their shirt off or put a gown on.
  3. The child will lay down on a bed or table covered with a sheet.
  4. Three small stickers will be placed on the chest and will connect to wires. (The child will not feel anything other than the stickers being put on and taken off at the end.)
  5. The tech will place gel on your child’s chest. (This may feel cool or lukewarm.)
  6. The tech will then use the wand and move it around the child’s chest with the gel.
  7. The child may see the tech pressing buttons (compare to a screen shot on a phone) saving the picture to the computer.
  8. Once the test is complete, the tech will remove the gel with a clean towel and the child can put his/her shirt back on.
  9. The test is then complete and can be sent to the doctor for review.

Everyone has a job and it is important to remember that the child’s job is to hold still. Bringing a book or something to watch during the exam could help. Parents can find more information here.

 

 

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