Your child may be diagnosed by ultrasound during pregnancy. Or your child's healthcare provider may first suspect a heart defect when they hear an abnormal sound (heart murmur) when listening to your child's heart with a stethoscope. Your child may also have symptoms of a heart problem. Your child’s healthcare provider may refer your child to a heart doctor for children (pediatric cardiologist).
The heart doctor will check your child and listen to their heart and lungs. The location and loudness of the murmur will help the doctor make the diagnosis.
Your child’s doctor may then do tests to confirm the diagnosis. The tests your child has depend on their age and condition, and the doctor’s preferences.
A chest X-ray may show changes in the heart and lungs caused by an AV canal defect.
This test records the electrical activity of the heart. It also shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias) and spots heart muscle stress. These issues may be caused by caused by an AV canal defect.
This test uses sound waves to make a moving picture of the heart and heart valves. An echo can show the pattern of blood flow through the septal openings. It can also show how large the openings are and how much blood is passing through them. Most AV canal defects are diagnosed with an echo.
A cardiac catheterization gives very detailed information about the structures inside the heart. In this test, a small, thin, flexible tube (catheter) is put into a blood vessel in your child’s groin. Then the healthcare provider guides it to your child’s heart. Your child’s healthcare provider will inject your child with contrast dye to see their heart more clearly. Your child’s healthcare provider will give them medicine to help relax and prevent pain (sedation). Your child’s blood pressure and oxygen levels will be checked during the procedure.