Echocardiogram with Sedation or Anesthesia

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An echocardiogram (EK oh CARD ee oh gram), often called an “echo,” is an ultrasound of the heart. This test does not hurt; however, most children younger than three years of age have a hard time lying still long enough for good pictures to be taken. Therefore, your physician has ordered a “sedated echo.” A sedated echo means that your child will be asleep while the test is done. Most often the test lasts about 60 minutes. You should plan to spend about 3½ hours in the department.

Before the test

  • When the appointment for the sedated echo is made, a nurse will call to tell you the time and date.
  • The nurse will also tell you what your child may eat or drink before the test.
  • If your child takes medicine, the nurse will tell you which medicines you should not give before the test.

It is very important to carefully follow the instructions for withholding food, drink, and certain medicines from your child for a period of time before the test. If you do not, it could mean that your child will not be allowed to have the sedated echo.

Call the Pre-Admission Testing nurses with questions at (614) 722-3850

What kind of medicine my child gets

Some children may need different medicine to help them sleep during a sedated echo. Depending on your child, the doctor will decide if he or she should get anesthesia or sedation. The doctors and nurses give anesthesia to children that need special monitoring. Sometimes these children are given medicine to relax before they get an IV. This will help them stay safe.

The anesthesiologist will always decide what medicine is best for your child.

Who may need anesthesia?

  • Patients with unrepaired heart problems
  • All complex heart patients
  • All single ventricle patients

  • Morbidly obese patients (BMI greater than 35)

  • Children less than 4 months old

  • Patients with autistic or aggressive behavior. This includes children that cannot have an IV placed before sedation.

  • Patients getting a transesophageal echo

The day of the test

  • On the day of the appointment, you will come to Crossroads Registration to check in. You will be asked to arrive 90 minutes before your child’s echo.
  • After registering, a technologist or RN will get you and your child from the waiting room and take you to a pre-op room.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form for the sedation. The nurse will then take your child back to the procedure room for the test. You will be asked to wait in the waiting room.
  • After the test is complete, your child will be given some time to wake up in a post-op room. You will be brought back to this room to see your child.

How the test is done

  • If your child’s medicine needs to be given through an intravenous line (IV), an IV will be started at this time. The nurse will explain options to help your child get an IV.
  • The nurse or doctor will give the medicine and monitor your child as he or she falls asleep. A nurse will stay to monitor your child during the entire test.
  • The cardiac sonographer will do the test. After the test is over, your child will be watched closely until he or she is awake. This could take about an hour.
  • After your child is awake, he or she may have some clear liquids. If able to keep liquids down well, your child may have crackers. We will continue to watch your child closely until discharge.


  • The IV will be removed after the test is done.
  • Once home, your child may eat or drink his or her usual foods. If old enough to walk, the child may still be a little off balance for a while. For this reason, we suggest that you watch your child around stairs and hard surfaces.
  • Your child may be a little irritable the afternoon of the test and might need an extra nap that afternoon. The next morning after the test, there should be no after-effects from the medicine that was used for sedation.

If you already have a clinic appointment scheduled after your child’s procedure, the cardiologist will explain the echo results to you at that time. If you do not have an appointment, you will receive results at a later date.

Child’s name: _______________________________________________________
Date: ______________________________________________________________
Echo test time: ______________________________________________________
Cardiology Clinic appointment time (if applicable): ________________________


Please bring your child to:

Nationwide Children’s Hospital Main Campus
First Floor, Crossroads Registration Area
700 Children’s Drive, Columbus, OH 43205
Phone: (614) 722-9562

If you need to cancel your appointment or reschedule, call a nurse in The Heart Center at (614) 722-2530 option 2.


 Echocardiogram with Sedation or Anesthesia (PDF)

HH-III-114 12/09, Revised 09/18 | Copyright 2009, Nationwide Children’s Hospital