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Congenital Heart Disease Diagnosis

To determine whether you have a congenital heart defect your doctor will take your medical history, perform a complete physical exam and order blood tests. Other tests that your doctor may use include:

  • Echocardiogram is a non-invasive test using ultrasound (sound waves) and a device called a transducer — which is placed on the surface of the chest — to create a moving picture of the heart. It shows the size and shape of the heart chambers and views of the valve opening.

  • Chest X-ray is a non-invasive test that takes pictures of the heart and lungs; these can help the doctor determine if there’s heart failure or certain lung problems that might cause chest pain.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a simple non-invasive test that can be done in the doctor’s office using small adhesive pads called electrodes that are placed on the arms, legs, and chest. These electrodes are connected to a machine that detects and prints out the heart's electrical impulses, giving a 10-second snapshot of what the heart is doing right at that moment.

  • Heart catheterization is used to detect abnormalities of the heart valves, heart function and coronary arteries. This procedure uses a catheter (long thin flexible tube) that is inserted through a blood vessel in the wrist, leg, arm or neck to measure the pressure of blood in the heart chambers, take blood samples or view heart structures (using contrast dye).

  • MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to produce detailed images of internal structures.

  • Other possible tests include: CT scan or oxygen levels in the blood or tissues