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Fetal echo is the test done via ultrasound to assess the heart of the unborn baby. It is a special test and requires special training and skill. The screening of the heart abnormality needs to be done during the Level II scan. If any doubt about any structure related to the heart arises or of the hearts particular structure cannot be checked due to baby’s position, then it is best the heart is evaluated by the Cardiologist. Pediatric Cardiologists are best trained to assess defects in the heart related to the structure of the heart e.g. hole in heart or valve abnormality in the heart. Initial screening may be done by the Sonologist but the final opinion should always be taken by the Cardiologist. In addition to being a vital organ, it is also THE MOST COMMON BIRTH DEFECT with 1% i.e. 1 out of 100 pregnancies being affected.
Once an abnormality is noted, forst we need to know of there if it is of any significance or not. Not all problems are of significance. Some findings are normal in a newborn but when seen in a Fetus they may be considered abnormal and may only require follow up. If it is a significant problem then the family is counselled about it and whether it is treatable, or not or even whether it requires consideration for a treatment. Because not all problems requires treatment.
Many conditions remain static, some progress and a few even decrease over time. Mild valve leakages may come or go or remain static. Holes noted in the heart may get smaller. Rarely valve narrowing may progress and worsen the child’s condition warranting an early delivery. This is only the situation when child’s life is at risk
Some patients do not require heart surgery. If at all required, some do in 3-12 months age. Very few and rare patients require it immediately in the first few days of life.
A fetal echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart performed during pregnancy to evaluate the heart of the unborn baby and can be performed as early as 18 weeks gestation. Diagnostic accuracy for detecting complex CHD with a Fetal Echocardiogram is as high as 95%.
Treatment options are specific to each patient. When you are seen in our clinic, we will explain to you about the condition and what treatment options are available for your baby. We will discuss the big picture of your child’s expected future, and we will have a conversation where you can ask us questions that direct us to provide information that is important to you.
Fetuses conceived with IVF/ICSI methods are at an increased risk of developing CHD compared with those conceived spontaneously.
Fetal echocardiography is a specialized ultrasound test performed during pregnancy to evaluate the position, size, structure, function and rhythm of the unborn baby's heart. An obstetrician is able to obtain a limited view of the baby's heart during a routine pregnancy ultrasound.
In twin pregnancies, FETAL ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY is technically possible and becoming more widely available.
Fetal echocardiography should be used to screen monochorionic multiple gestations.
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