Testing and Diagnosis

University Children’s Health Heart Center offers diagnostic tests on both an inpatient and outpatient basis from our home in University Health System. Our Heart Center team will utilize a number of tests to diagnose your child’s congenital heart disease and create a treatment plan that’s right for your child. Our pediatric heart specialists stay up to date with the very latest surgical treatments as well as minimally invasive interventional cardiology treatments.


Echocardiograms are the gold standard for imaging a child’s heart. An echocardiogram test uses sound waves to create images of your child’s heart. We perform pediatric echocardiograms and fetal echocardiograms.

Fetal echocardiograms help us diagnose heart problems in unborn babies so we can plan for any special needs or treatment your baby will need after birth.

Our pediatric echocardiography team is dedicated solely to the care of pediatric patients. The pediatric echocardiography team members at University Children’s Health Heart Center are some of the most skilled echocardiography professionals in the region with over 75 years of combined experience. In 2015, the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission recognized our center for the outstanding quality of its patient care.

There are two main types of pediatric echocardiograms:

  • Transthoracic echocardiograms (TTE) A noninvasive device called a transducer, produces images and sounds of the heart through an ultrasound.
  • Transesophageal echocardiograms (TEE) are minimally invasive. The pediatric cardiologist guides a scope down the throat to get a clearer view of the heart. We perform these studies before and after every open heart surgery to provide real time information about your child’s heart surgery.


An ECG exam measures the electrical activity of the heart through small skin patches called electrodes. The test will help determine if your child’s heart is beating normally, if there is a congenital (present at birth) heart disease, or if there is damage to the heart.

If more information than a standard ECG can provide is needed, your child may have to wear a Holter monitor. A Holter monitor functions similarly to an ECG, but is worn for 24 to 48 hours to record sporadic events and ensure a more complete picture of the electrical system of the heart.

Diagnostic Imaging

In addition to echocardiography, other imaging tests are important to the congenital heart diagnostic process. These tools allow our doctors to learn more about your child’s condition. Our team uses several imaging exams, including:

  • CT (computed tomography) – a type of X-ray that creates detailed images
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) –uses a powerful, harmless magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body.
  • X-rays – a diagnostic imaging test

Diagnostic Cardiac Catherization

Sometimes, standard diagnostic tools do not give us a clear enough view of the heart. If this is the case, diagnostic cardiac catheterization is often the right option.

During this procedure, a doctor will thread a long, thin tube called a catheter into the heart through a blood vessel. Several tests can be performed with the help of diagnostic cardiac catheterization, including:

  • Coronary angiogram – measures how blood flows through your child’s heart
  • Diagnostic electrophysiology –evaluates problems with the electrical system of the heart.
  • Intracardiac ultrasound – high frequency sound waves produce images of the heart.
  • Biopsy – where samples of blood or heart muscle are taken.