The ECHO service is a non-invasive investigative service that provides several key functions. In the first instance it is responsible for performing ultrasound scans of the heart to show any structural abnormalities that might be present and so aid diagnosis of cardiac disease.
Secondly, scans can be undertaken pre and post surgery to monitor a patient's condition. Performing in excess of 10,000 scans per year, most patients undergoing cardiac surgery on cardio-pulmonary bypass will have a trans-oesophageal and/or epicardial echocardiogram.
Thirdly, a fetal ECHO clinic exists to identify heart abnormalities before birth enabling appropriate decision making on behalf of the patient and the family. Approximately 1,200 second trimester (20th week of gestation) scans are carried out with an additional 1,000 scans per year anticipated for a newly established first trimester (15th week of gestation) screening programme.
The GOSH Cardiorespiratory Unit has two scanners dedicated to Cardiac MRI clinical work and research.
Cardiovascular MR (CMR) is a rapidly developing field with expanding clinical applications. It is a very powerful adjunct to the established cardiac imaging modes of echocardiography and cardiac catheterisation and often gives morphologic and haemodynamic information that echocardiography and catheterisation alone do not provide.
In the paediatric population, CMR could be justified for any patient in whom clinical or echocardiographic data is insufficient for monitoring, decision-making or surgical planning.
We scan children of all ages with all types of congenital disease. Children less than seven years of age usually need a general anaesthetic for the scan because prolonged cooperation and breath-holding is required. We also scan adults with unrepaired, repaired or palliated congenital heart disease.