Cardiac Imaging Contact number | 202-476-2020

Cardiac Imaging

Clear Images and Fewer Side Effects

Children's and the NIH have created a state-of-the-art cardiac imaging and intervention site dedicated to finding better methods for children.

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Detailed images of your child’s heart help us provide an accurate diagnosis so we can create a personalized, effective treatment plan. At Children’s National, our cardiac imaging specialists combine advanced techniques with a warm, child-centered approach. Caring for children is not one of the things we do. It’s all we do.

Cardiac Imaging at Children’s National: Why Choose Us

At Children’s National, our heart specialists work together to make sure your child gets the right test, at the time right, so we can make the right diagnosis.

We provide imaging services that are:

  • Expert. We have one of the busiest pediatric laboratories for echocardiography (a type of imaging procedure) in the U.S., performing nearly 15,000 studies every year. This high volume translates into experience and expertise for our team.
  • Nationally known. We are a national leader in congenital heart disease imaging. Congenital heart defects are heart problems that your child is born with. We may diagnose your child during your pregnancy or when your child is an infant.
  • Advanced. We use the latest imaging technology, including our hybrid cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) suite. This suite helps us obtain detailed, accurate images in the safest way possible. Learn more about cardiac MRI at Children’s National.
  • Convenient. We provide all the testing your child needs right here at our Heart Institute. We strive to complete the testing as quickly as possible so your child can begin the appropriate treatment.
  • Collaborative. Our specialists work together as an imaging team. Each team member has expertise in a different area of imaging. Working together, we maximize our knowledge about your child so we can provide a precise diagnosis.
  • Specialized. At Children’s National, everyone who comes in contact with your child is a pediatric specialist. The doctors performing imaging procedures on your child are pediatric cardiologists and experienced cardiac radiologists. 

Cardiac Imaging: Echocardiography for Children

The goal of cardiac imaging is to get detailed images of your child’s heart structure and function. These images help us pinpoint exactly what and where the problem is. One of the most common imaging procedures is an echocardiogram, or echo. 

An echo uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your child’s heart. There are several types of echocardiography tests:

  • Routine transthoracic echocardiography. We use patches (called electrodes) and a small handheld device (called a transducer) to obtain detailed images of your child’s heart. We developed one of the first digital echocardiography laboratories in the world, and we remain a leader in developing new technologies to improve care for our patients. Learn more about echocardiography, including what to expect on the day of the test.
  • Advanced echocardiography studies. We may need to do a more advanced type of echo, depending on your child’s condition. These other echo studies can provide more detailed images. Advanced echocardiography studies include:
    • Transesophageal echocardiography. During this procedure, we numb your child’s throat and insert a thin, flexible tube to obtain images.
    • Fetal echocardiography. A fetal heart echo provides detailed images of your baby’s heart before he or she is even born. Learn more about our fetal heart program.
    • Intracardiac echocardiography. We place an echo probe on the end of a catheter and place it directly on the heart.
    • 3-D echocardiography. This test enables us to see the images in 3-D, allowing our team to better assess and evaluate your child’s heart function.
    • Stress echocardiography. We take images of your child’s heart first when it’s at rest and then after exercise (or after taking medicine that simulates exercise.)

Cardiac Imaging: Other Procedures We Perform

Other imaging procedures we may perform include:

  • Vascular ultrasound. Vascular ultrasound uses sound waves to create detailed images of the body’s veins and arteries.  
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Cardiac MRI is one of the fastest growing diagnostic tools in pediatric cardiology. We use this technology to produce meticulous images of the inside and outside of the heart. Cardiac MRI does not use radiation and allows many patients to avoid more invasive procedures. Learn more about cardiac MRI at Children’s National. 


Telemedicine uses communication technology to help patients from all over, even if they are not at our hospital. Our specialists are nationally and internationally recognized pediatric heart experts, offering advice, guidance and diagnosis to patients, no matter where they are. We offer 24/7 imaging services to many hospitals in the region. How telemedicine works:

  1. Hospitals send us digital images of their patients’ hearts.
  2. Our pediatric heart experts analyze the images in order to diagnose the child’s condition.
  3. We discuss care recommendations with the child’s local heart team.

Brayden's Story

Pulmonary Atresia

"The world of congenital heart defects is scary, but to know that there are people like those at Children's National to help guide you along the way is very comforting."

Brayden's Story

The Cardiac Imaging Team

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Children’s National sees children from around the Washington, DC, metropolitan region, nation, and world who need the kind of specialized expertise and child-focused care we offer. No matter what your child needs, we can provide care that’s just right.

Related Departments

Pediatric specialists at Children’s National work closely to ensure an integrated approach to caring for each child and family.

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