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.