Infants fail pulse oximetry screening when the oxygen saturation of their blood is lower than expected. Low levels of oxygen in the blood can be caused by many problems including critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). All babies who fail the screen must be examined by a healthcare provider and may need an echocardiogram to evaluate for CCHD.
An echocardiogram, also known as a cardiac ultrasound, is one of the most common tests used to diagnose congenital heart disease. Echocardiograms use ultrasound to create pictures of the heart and can also measure blood flow using Doppler ultrasound technology. This allows an accurate assessment of the structure and function of the heart.
A technician who specializes in performing echocardiograms will use an ultrasound probe to take pictures of your baby’s heart. This test is very similar to the ultrasound of your baby that you may have had during pregnancy. Like the ultrasound, echocardiograms are non-invasive and will not cause your baby any pain or discomfort. There are no known risks or side effects of echocardiograms.
Echocardiograms are done on newborns at many hospitals in Wisconsin. If your baby is born in a location where echocardiograms are not available, your baby may be referred to a hospital where this test can be done. Once the echocardiogram has been done, a pediatric cardiologist will interpret the results. If there is not a pediatric cardiologist at the hospital where the echocardiogram is done, the results will be sent digitally to a hospital with a pediatric cardiologist.
Regardless of where the echocardiogram is done and interpreted, your baby’s health care provider and the pediatric cardiologist will be in close communication about the results of this test.