Your baby's doctor may detect a heart defect by simply listening to your baby's heart. Ventricular septal defects often cause a heart murmur that your doctor can hear through a stethoscope. If your doctor hears a heart murmur or finds other signs or symptoms of a heart defect, he or she may request one or more of these tests:
Chest X-ray. An X-ray image helps the doctor see the condition of your baby's heart and lungs. An X-ray may identify conditions other than a heart defect that may explain your baby's symptoms.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). This test records the electrical activity of your baby's heart through patches attached to the skin. This test helps diagnose heart defects or rhythm problems.
Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce a video image of the heart. This image an help doctors see if your baby's heart is abnormal and determine if it is pumping properly. Echocardiography can also be done while the baby is still in the womb (fetal echocardiography).
Cardiac catheterization. In this test, a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel at your baby's groin or arm and guided through the blood vessels into the heart. Through catheterization, doctors can diagnose congenital heart defects and test the strength of the baby's ventricles - the heart's pumping chambers - and the function of the heart valves. Doctors are studying this technique for the repair of heart defects.
Pulse oximetry. This painless test measures how well oxygen is reaching your baby's tissues. It helps determine whether oxygenated blood is mixing with deoxygenated blood, which can help diagnose the type of heart defect present. A small finger clip on the baby's fingertip measures the amount of oxygen in the blood.
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