ASE offers guidelines for pediatric heart ultrasound

The American Society of Echocardiography has released examination guidelines on pediatric heart ultrasound. The measurement and the reporting of such echocardiograms are different than they are for adults — for example measurements must be modified to be appropriate to patient size and certain hemodynamic measurements must be specific to variety of congenital heart disease, and findings should be listed as both positive and negative to be most useful, according to a summary of the guidelines released by the organization.

ASE also said that for both congenital and acquired pediatric heart disease, special views can help to best image complex findings in a clear and uniform fashion. The organization also noted that complicated congenital heart disease cases often require that an examiner go looking for heart structures – unlike adult exams where all of the heart structures are where they seem they should be. Thus, examiners must use other available “windows to the heart” — including the top of the abdomen, the right side of the chest, and just above the breastbone, ASE said.

Additionally, a patient’s age, size, and maturity often calls for a different set of skills for the pediatric sonographer and echocardiographer. For instance, these exams require that the sonographer/echocardiographer knowledge of different probe frequencies, ASE said.  Beyond that, because young children are less likely to want to sit through a complete exam, a clinician must be prepared to find ways to distract a child or to consider using mild sedation and be equipped to provide that if the situation calls for it.