We have a wide range of the latest diagnostic testing for babies, children and young adults which enables us to investigate complex heart conditions. Early diagnosis gives us time to plan care for children and innovative surgery gives life-changing care to young patients.

Our expert cardiology team are pioneers in improving and developing effective treatment techniques, performing many world-firsts in heart care. We are proud to offer the UK’s first 3D echocardiogram service, the first fetal cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) service and the world’s first MRI-guided cardiac catheter.

Our consultants are expert in their field and have developed a new method using MRI to produce detailed 3D images of the fetal heart. This means early insights to help diagnose heart problems in babies before birth in order to plan care and early intervention.

What is cardiac imaging?

Cardiac imaging aids in the diagnosis of heart diseases and defects. It involves a variety of techniques to capture images of the heart and its surrounding anatomy. Our consultants use cardiac imaging modalities including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, computed tomography (CT) scans, X-rays, echocardiograms and electrocardiograms.

Our paediatric cardiology imaging service at Evelina London Children’s Hospital diagnoses and treats a wide range of children’s heart problems. We provide an expert level of care and cutting-edge technology to make your children feel safe and cared for.

Diagnostic imaging

Evelina London is one of the most advanced centres for children’s cardiac imaging in the country. We offer a range of paediatric diagnostic imaging tests to help manage and diagnose the full spectrum of paediatric and fetal cardiology  conditions:

  • echocardiography (heart ultrasound) – prenatal and postnatal
  • cardiac MRI
  • cardiac CT
  • cardiac catheterisation
  • electrocardiogram (ECG).

Types of scans

Heart ultrasound

Paediatric echocardiography – also known as an ultrasound – is usually the first test used for the diagnosis of your child, although it might not be the only test that your child needs.

An ultrasound can show how the heart is contracting, revealing heart defects such as narrowed valves or holes in the heart. Your child might need a heart ultrasound if they have symptoms which need to be investigated, to check on an existing heart condition, to prepare for surgery, or to examine results from surgery. The procedure is simple and painless, involves no radiation, and can be repeated as much as necessary, which is beneficial if your child has congenital heart disease that requires lifelong care.

We offer all ultasound (echocardiographic) modalities including:

  • 2D and 3D echocardiography
  • transoesophageal echocardiography
  • fetal echocardiography

Cardiac MRI

A paediatric MRI scan is often used to supplement traditional imaging techniques such as echocardiography and cardiac catheterisation. It uses a large magnet with radio signals and computer technology to produce images of the heart and its surrounding anatomy.

Your child might need a cardiac MRI if he or she has a congenital disease (a condition present from birth), or if echocardiography has not been sufficient to inform decisions relating to monitoring a condition, providing treatment or planning surgery.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

A paediatric electrocardiogram (ECG) is a simple test that checks the electrical activity in your child’s heart. It does this by recording the electrical signals of the heart. An ECG is a short, painless test that can help to diagnose heart problems your child may have, such as irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or coronary abnormalities as well as monitor how well treatments are working.

In an ECG, a number of sensors (electrodes) will be attached to your child’s chest and limbs. These sensors will monitor the heart’s electrical signals while a computer records and displays the information on a monitor. Your child will be asked to lie still during the test.

Chest X-ray

A paediatric chest X-ray is a common radiological test. A chest X-ray uses a machine to emit an X-ray beam through your child’s body, which can produce an image of the heart, blood vessels, lungs and airways.

An X-ray can show changes to the shape and size of the heart, which might indicate heart problems. Your child might be given an X-ray if he or she has gone to the emergency room with chest pain or symptoms such as shortness of breath. It can also be done to diagnose heart diseases, monitor an existing heart condition, and look at how well your child is responding to treatment.

Fetal imaging

Fetal imaging, which produces images of the fetus in your uterus (womb), can monitor your pregnancy, evaluating the growth and development of your baby, and can also be used to identify potential problems with your pregnancy.

Evelina London has pioneered the most advanced imaging technologies to safely see babies’ hearts to allow for early diagnosis before birth and detailed assessment of cardiac abnormalities and plan treatments from catheter interventions to surgery.

We offer early fetal heart scans from 12-13 weeks to provide early diagnosis for expectant parents. Our unit is recognised as a centre of excellence for prenatal diagnosis; we are the only centre in the world to offer 3D fetal cardiac MRI scans before birth in selected cases to improve diagnostic accuracy. Once a diagnosis is made, we manage pregnancies right through to postnatal cardiac surgery or catheter intervention, both available on site.

Fetal MRI

When information from an ultrasound is not clear, an abnormality is not sufficiently defined, or a more detailed picture of the fetus is required, a fetal MRI may be recommended. This scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of a fetus. It is a painless test which doesn’t expose your unborn baby to any radiation. A fetal MRI takes about 30 to 45 minutes and is done while you are lying down.

Discover our children's cardiology specialists

Meet our team of esteemed children’s cardiology specialists. From paediatric heart health assessments to advanced interventions, our experts are devoted to delivering personalised care for your child.