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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
The process of arriving at a diagnosis of aortic valve stenosis usually involves several steps.
Often, a clinician will first notice that your child has a heart murmur is simply a telltale noise blood makes as it flows from the left ventricle to the aorta.
Heart murmurs can be detected with a stethoscope during a routine physical examination or with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), a test that records the heart’s electrical activity and shows any abnormal rhythms or unusual stress. Sometimes, the murmur may emerge when the child is being tested or treated for another condition altogether.
The loudness of the murmur, where in the chest it is best heard and the types of noise it causes (such as gurgling or blowing) will all give your child’s clinician a better idea of the nature of your child’s heart problem.
(Did you know heart defects can even be detected when a baby is still in the womb? Learn more about how Boston Children’s monitors fetal heartbeats.)
Although exams and electrocardiograms can suggest the possibility of aortic valve stenosis, an echocardiogram is the definitive test used to confirm the diagnosis. An echocardiogram is a special procedure that uses ultrasonic sound waves to create images of the heart and its structures. Echocardiograms are painless, do not require an IV and only take about an hour to perform.
Other tests your child’s clinician might order to make, or rule out, a diagnosis of aortic valve stenosis can include:
You and your family play an essential role in your child’s treatment for aortic valve stenosis. It’s important that you share your observations and ideas with your child’s treating physician, and that you have all the information you need to fully understand the treatment team’s explanations and recommendations.
You’ve probably thought of many questions to ask about your child’s aortic valve stenosis. It’s often very helpful to jot down your thoughts and questions ahead of time and bring them with you, along with a notebook, to your child’s appointment. That way, you will have all of your questions in front of you when you meet with your child’s treating clinician and can make notes to take home with you. (If your child is old enough, you can encourage him or her to write down questions, too.)
Initial questions to ask your doctor might include:
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