A Collaborative Effort

CHKD's board-certified cardiac anesthesiologists collaborate with our interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologist to provide anesthesia to patients who require diagnostic and interventional procedures in the cardiac cath lab. CHKD's cardiac anesthesiologists also provide sedation for cardiac CT or MRI imaging studies.

Your child's doctor may order any of the following diagnostic tests: 


Also called an "echo," this test uses sound waves to create an image of the heart's structures and function.

CHKD's echo lab utilizes the most up-to-date technology and is accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) to perform transthoracic, transesophageal, and fetal echo studies. Our fully-credentialed sonographers perform approximately 7,000 studies a year at CHKD and at CHKD's offsite locations, and around-the-clock imaging is available at the main hospital. Read more about echocardiography for children.


Also known as an EKG or ECG, this test measures the electrical activity of your child's heart. EKGs can help doctors diagnose abnormalities of the hearts structure, function, or rhythm. Read more about electrocardiography for children.

Cardiac Catheterization

In this procedure, a long, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel and guided into the heart, giving cardiologist a close look at the heart and the opportunity to correct many problems that once required open heart surgery.  

CHKD was the first in the state to have a dedicated pediatric cardiac catheterization lab and performs approximately 275 cardiac catheterizations every year.

In 2014, the hospital purchased a state-of-the-art cath lab that reduces the amount of radiation used by 50 percent. The CHKD cardiac cath lab is committed to quality and best practice. All diagnostic and interventional catheterization procedures are submitted to the National Cardiovascular Disease Registry IMPACT database to participate in evidence-based practice guidelines for improvement of patient outcomes. We use procedural checklists recommended by the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions and hold multidisciplinary team conferences prior to every procedure. Read more about cardiac catheterization for children.

Cardiac CT Scan

CT stands for computerized tomography. This test is something like an X-ray, but it shows much more detail about internal organs, like the heart. CT scans can be done with or without contrast. In tests with contrast, children are given IV medications which help doctors see the heart more clearly on the images. Read more about radiology services at CHKD.

Cardiac MRI

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. Cardiac MRIs use radio waves and magnets to produce detailed images and measurements of the heart. The tests can be done with or without contrast. If doctors order an MRI with contrast, your child will be given medication by IV. Because it is important to hold completely still during the test, younger children may require sedation during an MRI. At CHKD, pediatric cardiac anesthesiologists care for heart patients who require sedation during MRIs. Read more.

Electrophysiology studies

These tests help cardiologists who specialize in the treatment of arrhythmias evaluate the electrical system of the heart. In these studies, electrodes are introduced into the heart via small, thin tubes called catheters, usually through a large vein in the leg or arm. Activating these electrodes enables doctors to pinpoint the cause of arrhythmias, which in many cases can be treated successfully during the same procedure. This process is called "catheter ablation." CHKD performed approximately 40 catheter ablations in 2014 with a 97.5 percent success rate. CHKD's EP technology includes high-powered radiofrequency ablation and 3-D mapping for very limited radiation exposure.   

CHKD's EP lab also offers noninvasive and minimally invasive testing, such as transesophageal EP studies, pacemaker/ICD testing, and medication challenges in a safe, controlled environment.

Fetal Echocardiography

When obstetricians suspect that a baby's heart is not developing normally, they refer expectant mothers to CHKD, where the region's only lab accredited in fetal echocardiography is located. Fetal echocardiography uses ultrasound technology to create a more detailed picture of the heart than is obtained from a standard ultrasound.  The test can show the structure of the baby's heart, how the blood flows through it and the heart rhythm, allowing accurate diagnosis of many, but not all, heart problems. 

At CHKD, a special prenatal team (a pediatric cardiologist, pediatric sonographers, and a social worker) works closely with each family as well as referring physicians, neonatologists, geneticists and others as needed to create prenatal and postnatal management plans.

Many of the mothers we help are patients of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department at EVMS, the region's referral center for high-risk pregnancies. Deliveries usually take place at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, which operates a perinatal intensive care unit for high-risk patients and complicated births. CHKD's neonatal intensive care unit is connected to this area of Norfolk General by an interior hallway, allowing our neonatologists to attend births and begin care in the delivery room. 

Holter Monitoring

When symptoms, such as dizziness, fainting, low blood pressure, prolonged fatigue, or heart palpitations continue without a definitive diagnosis from a routine electrocardiogram or ECG, your child may need an ECG for a longer period. A prolonged type of ECG test, called a Holter monitor, usually gives the doctor at least 24 hours of ECG tracings and a better opportunity to see any abnormal heartbeats or rhythms that may be causing your child's symptoms. Read more about holter monitoring for children.

Peripheral Vascular Lab

Testing utilizes ultrasound to look for abnormalities of both arteries and veins. Our vascular lab is also accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) and all sonographers are fully credentialed in vascular ultrasound. The PVL lab also helps with Holter monitoring and treadmill stress testing.

Stress Testing

This test measures how your child's heart responds to stress or exercise by recording an electrocardiogram and blood pressure while your child exercises on a treadmill or stationary bike.