Diagnosis

To diagnose Ebstein's anomaly, your doctor may review your signs and symptoms and conduct a physical examination. If your doctor suspects an underlying problem, such as congenital heart disease, or if you have other signs and symptoms that may suggest Ebstein's anomaly, your doctor may recommend several tests, including:

  • Echocardiogram. This test is often used to diagnose Ebstein's anomaly and other congenital heart defects. In this test, sound waves produce detailed images of your heart. This test assesses the structure of your heart, the tricuspid valve and the blood flow through your heart.

    Your doctor may also order a transesophageal echocardiogram. In this test, your doctor inserts a tube with a tiny sound device (transducer) into the part of your digestive tract that runs from your throat to your stomach (esophagus). Because the esophagus lies close to your heart, the transducer provides a detailed image of your heart.

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG). An ECG uses sensors (electrodes) attached to your chest and limbs to measure the timing and duration of your heartbeat. An ECG can help your doctor detect irregularities in your heart's rhythm and structure, and offer clues as to the presence of an extra pathway.
  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray shows a picture of your heart, lungs and blood vessels. It can reveal if your heart is enlarged, which may be due to Ebstein's anomaly.
  • Cardiac MRI. A cardiac MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of your heart. This test may be used to determine the severity of your condition, get a detailed view of the tricuspid valve, and assess the size and function of your lower right heart chamber (right ventricle).
  • Holter monitor. This is a portable version of an ECG. It's especially useful in diagnosing rhythm disturbances that occur at unpredictable times. You wear the monitor under your clothing. It records information about the electrical activity of your heart as you go about your normal activities for a day or two.
  • 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, you walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle while your blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and breathing are monitored. A stress test may be used to get an idea of how your heart responds to exercise. It can help your doctor decide what level of physical activity is safe for you.
  • Electrophysiology study. This test may be used to diagnose irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). In this test, doctors thread thin, flexible tubes (catheters) tipped with electrodes through your blood vessels to a variety of spots within your heart. Once in place, the electrodes can map the spread of electrical impulses through your heart.

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

  • Cardiac catheterization. Doctors rarely use this test to diagnose Ebstein's anomaly. However, in a few cases doctors may order it to obtain additional information, to confirm findings from other tests, or to check heart arteries.

    In this procedure, doctors insert a long, thin tube (catheter) into a blood vessel in your groin, arm or neck and guide it to your heart using X-ray imaging. A special dye injected through the catheter helps your doctor see the blood flow through your heart, blood vessels and valves; measure pressures and oxygen levels in your heart; and look for abnormalities inside the heart and lungs.