Fetal Echocardiography Scan

Congenital heart conditions (CHDs) are typical in newborns and unborn infants. About 4.2% of babies within the first 28 days of life, called the neonatal period, die due to CHDs. Fortunately, the percentage is decreasing owing to the early detection methods actively performed on pregnant women.

You can consider a Fetal echocardiography scan to detect congenital heart conditions in infancy. Early detection can help you and your family prepare emotionally and financially for a child with congenital heart disease.

What is a Fetal Echocardiography Scan?

A Fetal echocardiography scan utilises ultrasound waves to generate an image called an echocardiogram. It is generally performed in the second trimester of pregnancy, from eighteen to twenty-four weeks.

A pediatric cardiologist with expertise in Fetal congenital heart diseases interprets the echocardiogram. An echocardiogram can help detect and confirm congenital heart diseases.

Types of Fetal Echocardiography Scans

Fetal echocardiography shows the heart and surrounding arteries of a baby better than a regular ultrasound. It is of two types-

  • Abdominal ultrasound: The procedure is done directly on the mother's belly. It is the most commonly used method for Fetal echocardiography.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound: The ultrasound is done from the inside of the mother's vagina. This method is generally performed in the early stages of pregnancy, as it generates clearer images.

Why is a Fetal Scan Performed?

Congenital heart conditions can be frightening for parents. Detecting them at an early, treatable stage by consulting your doctor is your best option for ensuring a healthy life for your child.
A Fetal echocardiogram can help you identify abnormalities in a baby's heart before they are born. A pediatric cardiologist can detect deformities by studying the heart's structure, blood flow patterns, and heart rhythm of the baby.

How is a Fetal Echocardiography Scan Done?

Your sonographer will adopt the procedure depending on the type of Fetal echocardiography they will perform.

  • Abdominal ultrasound: The sonographer will apply a clear gel to your belly. They will then place a probe on your belly to take images of the baby's heart. The entire procedure can take anywhere from 45 to 120 minutes, depending on the condition of the baby's heart.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound: The sonographer expert in the procedure will insert a small probe or an ultrasound transducer inside your vagina. The probe will rest on the back walls of the vagina to take clear images of the baby's heart.

When is a Fetal Echocardiography Scan Performed?

Your doctor can advise you to take a Fetal echo for the following reasons:

  • If the parents, a sibling, or anyone in the immediate family have a history of heart conditions
  • If the regular pregnancy ultrasound detected abnormalities but could not confirm.
  • The mother suffers from diabetes, lupus, or phenylketonuria.
  • The mother took prescribed medicines that may have damaged the baby's heart.
  • There are other reasons to believe that the baby's heart may be damaged.

Conclusion

A baby with congenital heart disease can have a happy and healthy life if the condition is detected early. Fetal echocardiography is an excellent procedure to ensure that the baby's heart is correctly forming even before they are born. Since CHD can be passed on to children by their parents, awareness can help the parents and family properly prepare for them.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Hyderabad - Jubilee Hills. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What can be expected from a fetal echocardiography scan?

You may get a normal result if everything is okay with the baby's heart. However, if you get an abnormal result, your baby's heart may:
1. not have formed correctly.
2. not have normal functioning.
3. have arrhythmias or disturbances in the heart's rhythm.

2. How can I prepare for a fetal echocardiography scan?

There is no preparation required in general for a fetal echocardiography scan. Your doctor will give you specific instructions if needed.

3. Will I be asked to take a fetal echocardiography scan if I have a heart condition?

Yes. If the mother, the father, or anyone else in the family has heart conditions, your doctor can advise you to take a fetal echocardiography scan.

4. Is there any risk to me or my baby from a fetal echocardiography scan?

There are no known risks or side effects from a fetal echocardiography scan for the baby or the mother.

5. Is a fetal echocardiography scan procedure efficient?

A sonographer may not be able to precisely detect all the heart conditions in an unborn baby's heart through a foetal echocardiography scan. Some cases may be mild valve issues, small heart holes, or problems in larger blood vessels.

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