Diseases and Conditions

Ebstein anomaly


If you or your child doesn't have signs or symptoms of heart trouble, the doctor might suspect a problem only after hearing abnormal heart sounds during a routine physical exam.

Abnormal heart sounds, such as a heart murmur, aren't usually cause for concern. However, your doctor or your child's doctor will likely refer you to a doctor who specializes in treating heart conditions (cardiologist) to determine the cause.

Your doctor might recommend several tests, including:

  • Echocardiogram. This test uses sound waves to produce detailed images of your heart. It shows the structure of your tricuspid valve and the blood flow through your heart.

    Sometimes, a transesophageal echocardiogram is done. This test uses a tube with a tiny sound device (transducer) inserted into the part of your digestive tract that runs from your throat to your stomach (esophagus). Because your esophagus lies close to your heart, this test can provide a detailed image of your heart.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). Sensors (electrodes) attached to your chest and limbs measure the timing and duration of your heartbeat. An ECG can help show problems with your heart's rhythm and structure. Some personal devices, such as smartwatches, offer remote ECG monitoring. Ask your doctor if this is an option for you.
  • Holter monitor. A Holter monitor is a portable ECG device that you wear while away from the doctor's office. It records your heart's electrical activity as you perform your normal activities for a day or two.
  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray is a picture of your heart, lungs and blood vessels. It can tell your doctor if your heart is enlarged.
  • Cardiac MRI. A cardiac MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of your heart. This test gives your doctor a detailed view of your tricuspid valve. It allows your doctor to see the size of your heart chambers and how well they work.
  • Pulse oximetry. In this test, a sensor attached to your finger or toe measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.
  • Exercise stress test. During this test, your blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and breathing are monitored as you walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle. An exercise stress test can show how your heart responds to exercise. It can help your doctor decide what level of physical activity is safe for you.
  • Electrophysiology study (EP). To perform this test, the doctor threads thin, flexible tubes (catheters) tipped with electrodes through your blood vessels to areas within your heart to map your heart's electrical impulses.

    In addition, your doctor can use the electrodes to stimulate your heart to beat at rates that may trigger — or halt — an arrhythmia. This can help your doctor determine if medications can help treat the arrhythmia.

  • Cardiac catheterization. A long, thin tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in your groin, arm or neck and guided to your heart using X-ray imaging. A special dye injected through the catheter gives your doctor a clearer view of blood flow through your heart, blood vessels and valves. During the test, your doctor can measure pressures and oxygen levels in your heart and look for problems inside the heart and lungs.