Tele-echocardiography, under the umbrella of telemedicine, is a life-saving technology for infants and children with congenital heart disease. Developed in the 1990s at Children's Memorial Hospital, our former location, tele-echocardiography today enables pediatric cardiologists to view and interpret echocardiograms performed on patients at other hospitals in real-time.
This real-time viewing of images and information allows for infants with serious congenital heart disease to be diagnosed quickly and cared for or transferred immediately. This technology is also very effective in defining cases of mild heart disease, which can often be cared for locally.
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Most adult hospitals where children are born do not have the pediatric expertise of our team of sonographers who are specially-trained to detect abnormalities in infants and children. Our team also has 24-hour access to our pediatric cardiologists so that even in the middle of the night, the right diagnosis can be made to save a young life.
Before tele-echocardiography, babies may have been transported to another hospital for diagnosis, or their discharge may have been delayed while waiting for an echocardiogram to be interpreted. Tele-echocardiography allows for a quicker diagnosis, which improves the infant's outcome and decreases parental fears if the child's heart is normal. Unnecessary costly transports and prolonged hospital stays also are avoided. To see an example of this practice in action, watch Baby Kaysen's video in the sidebar.
Our tele-echocardiography technology helped launch similar programs in the United States and internationally. With sonographer training and interaction between the sonographer and our pediatric cardiologists, congenital heart disease can be diagnosed or ruled out.
Since the distance between hospitals is irrelevant, tele-echocardiography technology has the potential to become an important solution in diagnosing of congenital heart disease in remote area without access to pediatric cardiology expertise. Using this simple technology, outcomes for patients with congenital heart disease may be significantly improved around the globe.