Tests and Diagnosis

In a newborn with more severe Ebstein’s then there may be obvious signs of Ebstein’s such as cyanosis.  For many though, the condition may be found ’incidentally’ through the initial detection of a heart murmur during a routine check up, which is then investigated further.  It is important to stress that most people with a heart murmur will not have Ebstein’s anomaly, but that the following tests are used to clarify the diagnosis:

  • Chest x ray – This will take a photograph of the lungs, heart and blood vessels.  If the heart is enlarged then this can be an indication of Ebstein’s anomaly.
  • An Echocardiogram – This is a non-invasive test which uses ultrasonic waves to produce a real time picture of the heart.  A technician uses the imager to travel over different parts of the chest allowing tiny details of the heart and its internal chambers to be seen on a computer screen.  This procedure will usually confirm the diagnosis of Ebstein’s anomaly.
  • An Electrocardiogram (ECG) – this is where electrodes and sensors are connected to the chest and arms and legs to assess the rhythms of the heart.  Often this technique will be the first to be used if an older child has reported ‘strange’ feelings in their heart, such as butterfly movements or a fast heart.  When the ‘trace’ (results of the test) have been analysed this may indicate that the heart is not operating normally.
  • Cardiac catheterization – this is the injection of a special dye into the heart to show how the heart is functioning and which tests the electrical system (electrophysiology study).  This test may be used in select cases.

<<Previous: Symptoms    Next: Management>>