Herma Heart Center diagnostics
Herma Heart Center has a range of tests to help diagnose children's heart disease, even before birth. Each year our highly trained technologists, pediatric cardiologists and exercise physiologist perform nearly 12,000 diagnostic procedures.
Echocardiography (ECHO) is the standard and often most useful test. It is similar to an ultrasound of the heart. Our experts perform many types of ECHOs, including:
- Tele-echocardiography - a computerized system uses telephone lines to transmit full-motion ECHO images so our experts can diagnose children located at other hospitals.
- Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) - performed during open-heart surgery, this ECHO provides immediate feedback to assist in the medical care and help ensure the heart defect has been corrected completely before the child leaves the operating room.
- Fetal echocardiography - performed on pregnant mothers, fetal ECHO gives us the ability to see and diagnose potential heart defects in unborn babies. Many forms of congenital heart disease now can be diagnosed by 16 to 18 weeks gestation.
In addition, our experts review ECHOs sent to them by physicians throughout the country for diagnosis or a second opinion.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) measures the electrical activity of the heart. EKGs are used in any clinical setting where monitoring the heart rate and rhythm is important. This includes the clinic, intensive care or inpatient units, in the operating room and sometimes during childbirth.
- Stress tests record a child's pulse, blood pressure and EKG during exercise. In some cases, cardiolite (a radio-isotope) is injected and a series of images are taken by a nuclear camera enabling cardiologists to look at the heart muscle.
- Tilt-table testing is done on patients who experience frequent fainting spells (syncope). This test reproduces a patient's symptoms under closely monitored conditions, allowing the cardiologist to see exactly what happens to the heart and blood pressure when a child faints.
- Holter monitoring allows for continuous EKG monitoring. Holter monitors are worn by patients for a 24-hour period to record their cardiac rhythms during their everyday activities. Results are read later by a pediatric cardiologist.
- Event monitoring is similar to Holter monitoring, however, instead of recording for a day, a patient or parent can press a button to record the child's heart rhythm when symptoms begin.
- Cardiac MRI is a safe and non-invasive way to see the heart structure and function without using radiation.