What is an Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) in Children?

“ECG,” “EKG” or “electrocardiogram” all refer to the same test, which is a quick and painless test that records the electrical activity of the heart on graph paper.

An electrocardiogram helps identify heart rhythm abnormalities. It can also provide information about the size or thickness of the heart chambers and the relative position of the heart in the chest.

Description of an EKG

An electrocardiogram can be done on hospital inpatients or outpatients. Cincinnati Children's performs electrocardiograms on outpatients at the main hospital on the fourth floor of the Location C (Outpatient Services Building).

Electrocardiograms are also performed at all Cincinnati Children's neighborhood clinics by appointment.

After registration, an electrocardiogram technician or nurse will take the patient into a room and have the patient take off his / her shirt and lie down on an examination table or bed. Twelve stickers, called electrodes, are attached to the chest, shoulders and each leg. A wire will then be attached to each electrode.

After the patient is very still and relaxed, the technician will press a button on the electrocardiogram machine and the recording will be done. The recording generally takes less than a minute.

Common Questions and Answers about an EKG

Does an electrocardiogram / EKG hurt?

No, an electrocardiogram is painless. In fact, the most painful part of the process is removing the electrodes, which are less sticky than adhesive bandages.

How long will an electrocardiogram / EKG take?

The whole procedure usually takes about five minutes. The quicker the patient can be still and relaxed the sooner it will be completed.

When and where are the EKG results provided?

A cardiologist will review the electrocardiogram and record his or her interpretation, generally within 24 hours. Results will be sent to the referring physician in 24-48 hours.

Preparing Your Child for an EKG

Please do not use baby oil or lotion before the test. It does not allow the electrodes to stick properly.

Risks Associated with an EKG

The only risk to the test is a skin allergy to the adhesive of the electrodes that may result in temporary redness and irritation of the skin where the electrodes are applied.

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Contact Cincinnati Children's Heart Institute

Last Updated 04/2022

Reviewed By Andrea Roberts, RN
ECG, EKG or electrocardiogram.

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