Congenital Heart Disease Diagnosis

Many adults think that if their congenital heart disease was treated when they were a child or an infant that they are cured.  However, lifelong follow-up care is important. This does not mean that you will experience lifelong heart problems. It simply means that you are more at risk for certain complications. Or perhaps you didn’t need treatment before, and now your congenital heart defect requires corrective therapy.  

Fletcher Allen offers a team of excellent, experienced cardiologists at our conveniently located outpatient facility in South Burlington to treat your unique condition.  We have cardiologists in our cardiology division at Fletcher Allen Health Care with specialized training in diagnosing and treating adults with congenital heart disease who also perform research in this field. 

Congenital Heart Disease Diagnosis

A congenital heart defect may be initially detected as abnormal heart sounds heard by your primary care physician through a stethoscope. Additionally, other findings from physical exam, chest x-ray, or electrocardiograms can lead to the discovery of congenital heart disease. 

Diagnosing Congenital Heart Disease at Fletcher Allen: Specialized Cardiac Imaging

Imaging studies can help confirm the congenital heart disease diagnosis. Our cardiac imaging experts offer a wide range of tests of diagnose your condition, and are specially trained in the latest technology and techniques. The process of diagnosis may involve the following:

  • Physical examination - A cardiologist specializing in congenital heart disease will listen to your heart and lungs and conduct a thorough examination. 
  • Echocardiogram - This test evaluates the structure and function of the heart. It uses sound waves to produce an image of your heart in motion. An echocardiogram is a valuable tool for diagnosing atrial septal defect, as it can:
    • Show whether other heart problems exist 
    • Show the pattern and amount of blood flow through the defect 
    • Determine the location, type, and size of the congenital heart defect 
    • Help determine the best options to treat the defect, including catheter-based devices or open chest surgery
  • Electrocardiogram - This test, also called an EKG or ECG, records the electrical activity of your heart through electrodes attached to your skin. An ECG indicates any abnormal rhythms and stress to the heart. 
  • Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging - These tests use x-ray radiation and magnetic resonance, respectively, to evaluate the structure and function of the heart. In addition, these tests can also image many of the other organs in the chest cavity, including the blood vessels. Many congenital heart defects are associated with other congenital defects in organs and the blood vessels, and cardiac CT or cardiac MR may be the best way to evaluate these.
  • Cardiac catheterization Experts in Fletcher Allen’s Cardiovascular Catheterization Laboratories can make pressure and blood flow measurements with catheters inside your heart. Additionally, they can inject a dye into the arteries of your heart through a catheter. The dye is visible on x-ray and video, helping to identify any blocked or narrowed arteries. This test gives valuable information about the structures inside the heart, and helps determine the best method to treat your congenital heart defect.

Learn more about Congenital Heart Disease treatments.

Find a Fletcher Allen cardiologist or call 802-847-2533.