Clinical and basic laboratory assessment of children for possible congenital heart disease

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2000 Oct;12(5):487-91. doi: 10.1097/00008480-200010000-00013.


Accurate and cost-effective detection of congenital heart disease is a priority for the primary care physician, but there are many diagnostic modalities and strategies available. Within the past year, investigators have reported factors that contribute to the failure to diagnose congenital heart disease before autopsy. Recent research also highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the clinical evaluation by the primary care physician. An examination by a pediatric cardiologist is a more specific discriminator between heart disease and innocent murmur and can, in many instances, eliminate the expense of relying on echocardiography for diagnosis. Current reports document substantial limitations of diagnostic utility of electrocardiography and chest roentgenography. Suspicions that echocardiography can be misleading when performed in laboratories without expertise in congenital heart disease are confirmed in recent organized comparisons of accuracy. High-quality, well-designed tele-echocardiography programs are shown to be effective solutions when maldistribution of pediatric cardiology services hampers diagnostic efficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiology
  • Child
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography / methods
  • Electrocardiography
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Telemedicine