Office Visits

For some families, the diagnosis of congenital heart disease is made before birth. Pregnant women can be referred to cardiologists specializing in the examination of hearts of unborn babies. This is done by a fetal echocardiogram any time from week 18 of pregnancy to delivery. An early diagnosis offers both the family and physician time to plan medical care.

However, the first contact with the pediatric cardiologist usually occurs after a referral has been made by your family doctor. When a referral has been made, our office will confirm this appointment by sending a postcard to your home. Please plan to set aside several hours for an office visit. This amount of time is needed to do a thorough examination, answer questions and help each family with any special needs. The tests that may be done during the office visit include a chest X-ray, an electrocardiogram (EKG) and an echocardiogram (ECHO).

Because Children’s is a teaching hospital, your child will be examined by a resident (a doctor receiving advanced training in pediatrics) or a fellow (a pediatrician receiving advanced training in pediatric cardiology) and a pediatric cardiologist. After the examination, the cardiologist will explain your child’s diagnosis, answer your questions and discuss any plans for future treatment. Sometimes no treatment is necessary even though a heart problem exists. In other cases, the doctor may make suggestions for further diagnostic tests or treatment. These could include medication, heart catheterization or surgery.

Understanding your child’s heart problem is not an easy task. The cardiologist will be glad to spend as much time as you wish discussing your child’s diagnosis and plans for care. Other members of the health team–the resident, social worker or nurse–also are available to provide this kind of help. If you have additional questions after your appointment, you can speak with members of the team by telephone or schedule a time to talk with them in person.

When you schedule your next office visit, you may request the same cardiologist. If you do not make this request, your child will be examined by the cardiologist who is assigned to the office on the day your child is scheduled to be seen. A cardiologist is always available to you or your family doctor 24 hours a day in case of an emergency.