The Benefit of Infant Echocardiography

Abstract

Advancement in echocardiography has offered a timely, comprehensive, and noninvasive identification of cardiac ailments. The risk factors related to the ailments vary across infants and they may be countered by using various echocardiographic tests. Those tests may include M-mode, Doppler technique, or cross-sectional techniques. The undertaking of the test occurs at specific times and includes various advantages and disadvantages. Nonetheless, the significance of the tests is admirable. The following capstone paper analyzes infant echocardiography in detail in the diagnosis of cardiac heart conditions. The paper further analyzes the risk factors, the benefits, and disadvantages of the test(s). In conclusion, the paper recommends the appropriate measures to be undertaken regarding the tests.

Keywords: heart conditions, echocardiography, infant echocardiography, tests

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Introduction

There exist many cardiac heart disorders associated with newborns that if not treated may result in fatalities in the future. Therefore, it becomes essential to diagnose those illnesses straight after birth so that appropriate medication could be applied. In diagnosing the disorders, it is highly advised to employ the appropriate measures that do not endanger the newborn, which is the reason why echocardiography becomes a common test on infants. Echocardiography represents a harmless test that can be conducted on infants and adults to diagnose the existence of cardiac disorders in the body.

As contrasted to other imaging infant modalities, echocardiography is acknowledged as the first imaging modality in the diagnosis of both straightforward and convoluted congenital heart diseases. The modality further offers enough preoperative anatomic and physiologic data on the diagnosis of certain cardiovascular conditions before any operation is undertaken. Echocardiography is essential in diagnosing and recognizing heart ailments in infants as well as following up on the baby's progress.

Therefore, echocardiography is considered the primary imaging modality for newborns in the identification of both simple and difficult congenital heart ailments. In addition, the test provides a sufficient amount of preoperative physiologic and anatomic data for the treatment of such weaknesses as atrial septal, patent ductus, and septal defects. The capstone paper analyzes infant echocardiography in the diagnosis of cardiac heart conditions, the risk factors, the benefits, and disadvantages of the tests.

Congenital Heart Diseases

According to Paul, Zaborowski, Moakes, & Sanjeevaiahal (2013), congenital heart ailments may exist as a collection of disorders that emerge when the heart and related features function not like they are intended. Congenital heart ailments represent the most current and mutual congenital defects and they have become the top reason for infant mortality from heart diseases (Qu et al., 2016).

Most ailments intensify the dangers of severe parental and newborn outcomes. However, improvements in echocardiography testing capabilities have increased the diagnosis of such disorders. Risk stratification for the expectant women with the disorders may be challenging, given the wide range of cardiac abrasions and hemodynamics. However, by using echocardiography tests, such dangers are identified and the correct measures are taken (Pillutla et al., 2016). The use of fetal echocardiogram has helped reduce the number of infants born with severe heart disorders. The risk elements of most infant cardiovascular conditions include the family account of the disease, genetic disorders, and some medications taken before delivery.

An echocardiogram presupposes a safe and painless ultrasound test that employs high non-radioactive frequency sound waves for observing the heart and detecting heart conditions. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2011), the test effectively creates and shows moving images of the heart. The echocardiographic tests in neonate and infants exhibit an extraordinary challenge due to the broad range of conceivable conditions and abnormalities and the inkling towards various lesions, necessitating distinctive imaging of entire arteries and veins and intracardiac structures.

With such a description, it becomes easy to identify illnesses that relate to the heart. Performance and analysis of the test in infants need a significant understanding of the pathologic composition of inherited heart conditions. The test is relatively more thorough than an average x-ray, making it an efficient tool for the appropriate identification of numerous heart illnesses. Being a standard identification method employed in the field of cardiology, the echocardiogram shows a great amount of data about the infant's heart.

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The Different Types of Echocardiography Tests

Several echocardiography tests are quite beneficial to the baby in the diagnosis of numerous heart conditions. The tests vary regarding their application and the intended results. The M-mode test represents the simplest form of echocardiography and creates a depiction of the heart that looks more like tracing rather than a real image of heart structures. In infants, the test is essential in determining heart organization - the dimension of the heart itself, the thickness of the heart linings, and the heart's driving cavities. By using this test, abnormal heart conditions, such as enlarged heart and other common problems, are detected in infants.

The evaluation and analysis of blood flow through the baby's heart structures and valves is determined by the use of the Doppler technique. Heart's functioning is determined by the amount of blood pumped out with every heartbeat. Infant conditions, such as abnormal blood flow within the heart, may be diagnosed using the test. The test is beneficial to babies in the identification of such conditions as an opening between the chambers of the heart, a condition with the heart valves, or the heart linings. Typically, the color Doppler is used as it simplifies the analysis of the method. Another test entails the cross-sectional techniques. All the techniques are essential in the imaging of cardiac anatomy thereby offering the necessary information.

The Test Process

Images of the child's heart can be observed on a small screen while the process is being undertaken. The test is beneficial to the infant, as the infant is kept safe since the method is non-invasive, so no needles or probes are involved. The test is mainly a transthoracic echocardiogram. Generally, for an infant, sedation may be necessary before undertaking the procedure to allow the cardiologists to obtain a comprehensive study because the infant has to stay still during the process. In addition, milk and solids are usually discouraged from ingesting before the scheduled process.

The doctor places the hand-gripped transducer at various points of the chest to determine the overall parts of the heart. The right thing with the echocardiographic test is that it prompts specific changes in the clinical management of infants and therefore a reliable tool in the realm of neonatologists. It is through the test that infants identified with insignificant conditions are classified as having no structural heart abnormality.

On many occasions, the test is carried out immediately after birth. It should be noted that the test takes place in the health centers that have been equipped with the necessary technology. As mentioned before, heart conditions prevailing during birth are mostly treatable. However, if they are not treated, the condition grows into adulthood and poses a life risk to the child. The test benefits the infants by recognizing their suffering and averting possible agony when seeking for treatment on fully developed problems. In many cases, the main reason why experts conduct the test on infants is to distinguish whether the core coronary anatomy is ordinary or not usual. Nevertheless, the test benefits infants, as it can further be employed to facilitate the evaluation of infant physiology.

Normally, not only does the test have to be carried out in the event a baby is diagnosed with a problem but also when the practitioner or the parent thinks it is essential. The specialist can propose an echocardiogram test if he or she has reasonable suspicion that the problems associated with the chambers or valves of the infant's heart are the causative factors for signs like chest pain or labored breath. Many specialists typically advise this analytical test procedure even to the adults as a part of yearly physical examinations since it can be a preemptive undertaking to counter any heart abnormality during its primary phases. The test is also beneficial when the parents are known to have a history of cardiac complications.

Advantages of Echocardiographic Test

The effects of echocardiography tests in the reliable and accurate identification of coronary conditions have led to increased awareness among the public in various aspects. Currently, there have been programs that have intensified the campaign on enhancing knowledge of the use of echocardiography tests in hospitals and for expectant mothers. The increased awareness has been beneficial to the infants since now, the parents can request the test to determine the infants’ coronary conditions so that in the case of abnormalities, the treatment could commence immediately. The use of this test has led to the upsurge in the survival rates of infants with heart conditions since early and timely interventions yield positive results. Thus, the widespread use of the test has led to health safety in the population.

Another benefit associated with the test is related to the findings that the infant cardiovascular systems vary from those of fetal, pediatric, and mature patients (The American Heart Association, 2008). For an infant, the cardiovascular system has to transit successfully through abrupt changes in the cardiorespiratory structure, including the changes in lung capacity and submission, and variations in the right and left heart preload and afterload. The infant heart may also have to cope with various structural and assimilated illnesses at the period of growth. With the use of the test, detailed information relating to the conditions is availed and assessed and the proper treatment is commenced.

In addition, doctors usually use test images to evaluate the development and efficiency of the cure. They also use it when they conclude whether the treatment program requires revision or modifications to achieve optimum results. The benefits for infant lie in the fact that the best available care and alternatives are always at the doctors’ disposal, and the change in treatment can be instituted for the general wellbeing.

Open access echocardiography signifies an analytical service that is essential for infants as it enables general practitioners to acquire echocardiograms without transfer to a cardiologist. The factor is important since many of the referrals are needless as not all newborns may have cardiac disorders. If they do, the doctors are always in a position to manage the situations by using prevailing strategies. Many infants stop breathing immediately after delivery because their hearts fail to function appropriately. Although many infants born will be subject to a heart weakness, the use of a fetal test enables the improved infant survival levels after birth. When carried out, this test can always analyze whether the blood leaks backward through the heart valves or if the heart valves are very narrow.

Several cardiac conditions can be diagnosed by this test in the infant. Such conditions include chest pain, heart murmur, aneurysm, pericarditis, valve conditions, congenital heart diseases, and congestive heart failure. Congenital heart conditions represent the most known reason for death among infants (Paul, Paul, & Mcallister, 2016). Sadly, not many parents realize after the delivery room that the newborn could have grave and protracted health issues. Others find out about the problems in several days or weeks, but it can be too late to avert the most serious complications.

Thus, fetal echocardiography becomes necessary if young life has to survive. According to numerous studies, there exist a significant number of adults with cardiac conditions than they have since birth, which translates to the fact that many children with the heart conditions survive to live to adulthood due to cures and interventions that are accessible soon after birth.

Chest pains in infants may result from various factors and may vary from coronary heart diseases, reflex esophagus, and neuritis among others. In such scenarios, it is always advisable for the health specialists to rule out the treatable conditions that show most of the presenting signs. A detailed echocardiogram becomes essential in this case since it is carried out to offer guidelines and identification of severe conditions or any other likely infection that may be harbored by the infant.

The test is recommended for the first diagnosis, where there exists visible variation in the clinical status of the child. Therefore, it is not appropriate to overdo the test unless there is an apparent deteriorating variance in the condition of the baby based on the outcomes of the test. Echocardiogram becomes essential to the child as it guides and assists the doctor in effortlessly and accurately undertaking the diagnosis, evaluation, and assessment of the heart factors for any abnormality, infections, blood clots, and heart mummers among others. Thus, the test becomes beneficial in detecting various abnormalities.

By combining the tests, a pediatric cardiologist receives the relevant data regarding the anatomy and function of the infant's heart. In addition, due to development in information transmission, echocardiography information can be exchanged between health care facilities, sometimes alleviating the necessity for an expensive patient transferal. When an infant is diagnosed with any heart complication, the test guides the heart surgery and intricate cardiac catheterizations.

The test is beneficial to babies as it offers an economical method for diagnosing the child with critical heart diseases. These conditions may be observed in a premature baby with a murmur that might be a patent ductus arteriosus or a baby with a dysmorphic syndrome and a murmur. In many instances, the test on babies is worth the cost since a clinical evaluation is unacceptably insensitive to severe conditions. The test offers a complete and definitive anatomic diagnosis, whereby so doing, it eliminates the necessity for additional procedures, whereas in others develops the scheduling and process of cardiac catheterization.

Another benefit to the infant is that numerous society clinics can treat neonates with mild or moderate respiratory diseases, but they lack the capability to handle children with cardiac conditions. According to Paul, Paul, and Mcallister (2016), community practitioners can detect some of the disorders, where the initial infant test has not identified the anomalies due to the lack of murmurs or other abnormal findings at conception.

When introduced, echocardiography avoids unnecessary referrals and manages the conditions effectively. In addition, another advantage to the baby is that should a congenital cardiac condition be specified by echocardiographic results, data can be exchanged via phones or fax in the case of crises. The move ensures that the condition is catered for promptly, which helps save lives.

The test is essential to infants in determining their future health life. It is imperative to guarantee continued treatment for the babies with cardiac conditions since in so doing, the transition to adulthood is guaranteed. However, it is necessary to note that fetal echocardiograms concentrate specifically on the heart and it can overlook other abnormalities in other organs of the child. During the transition from fetus to infant, it becomes very rare to diagnose and detect abnormalities in the cardiovascular system of the baby. It is during this period that undetected conditions develop, which can put the baby at risk shortly after birth. The conditions can be treated and controlled if they are detected early.

However, the late diagnosis has little or no effect on the well-being of the being and it may result in death. Therefore, echocardiography becomes essential in determining the condition of the infant and offers to the experts the time and strategy to counter the defects. Another benefit of the echocardiogram test to the child is that it does not require much preparation. In many cases, it only requires the baby not to be fed with drinks or food for just six hours before the process. The move is generally to allow maximum comfort during the activity and prevent the situations, for example, when an infant may be forced to vomit.

Risks Associated with Echocardiography Test

In regards to risks, echocardiograms are usually harmless as they are typically non-invasive and they only use radio waves to observe the heart structures and actions. However, several types of echocardiograms employ a different agent that can instigate allergic responses in some infants. A transesophageal echocardiogram represents a more offensive process as compared to others named earlier. Therefore, it is recommended not to undertake the procedure on the infants who have complications with their food pipes and those who have previously undergone radiotherapy (Connolly & Oh, 2011).

However, the transthoracic test comes with only slight discomfort when the transducer is pressed firmly against the chest and when the electrodes are removed from the skin. An echo cannot harm the infant or hurt and it has no side effects. Therefore, it is advisable therefore that for vulnerable women and those whose tests detect prospective complications with their baby's hearts may require returning to the practitioner for more follow-up visits to facilitate treatment because most heart conditions are treatable when identified at an early stage.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, infants are diagnosed with numerous heart conditions. It is essential to carry out the necessary test to diagnose the right condition to facilitate the proper treatment. Infant echocardiogram represents a unique ultrasound test that varies significantly from the traditional echocardiogram in mature individuals. A standardized procedure and expert abilities are essential in performing the test accurately. The test has proven beneficial to infants for diagnosing various life-threatening heart ailments and proposing the best possible treatment options.

The test is also cost-effective, thereby making it accessible to the children whose families’ financial background is average. In addition, the test is essential as it offers the right diagnosis thus alleviating the problems of inefficiency and inaccuracy where heart conditions are erroneously diagnosed. The test has no side effects and hence, it very safe to be carried out on infants.

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