Fetal Echocardiography : Basic But Important Questions To Keep In Mind

Fetal Echocardiography : Basic But Important Questions To Keep In Mind

What is fetal Echocardiography?

Fetal Echocardiography is a kind of advance ultra sound, noninvasive procedure, which is not readily available everywhere because it needs high end ultra sound machine as well as properly trained pediatric cardiologist to do it.

Fetal echo is a kind of ultrasonography which is done during pregnancy to evaluate the fetal heart, by this test we can assess structure, function, rate and rhythm of fetal heart.

It is typically done in between 18 to 24 weeks of gestation but it can also be done before or after the stipulated time if necessary.

Is this test procedure required for each and every pregnancy?

And the answer is obviously “YES”.

Any Risk Involved with this Procedure?

Fetal heart anomaly scan can be done thoroughly at the time of anomaly scan and if there is any risk of having heat defect, fetal echocardiography should be offered by experienced pediatric cardiologist.

What is the criteria to offer Fetal Echocardiography?

High risk pregnancy such that of women is suffering from

  • diabetes Miletus
  • taking anti-epileptic medication
  • she is already having a baby suffering from congenital heart disease
  • it is an IVF pregnancy
  • infected with Infections like Parvovirus, Rubella, Coxsackie

In those cases a fetal echocardiography is offered.

Other cases can be considered if the previous scan report found the following indication in fetal like

  • Increased Nuchal thickness,
  • Abnormal ductus venosus
  • Abnormal fetal cardiac screening
  • Major extracardiac abnormality
  • Abnormal Fetal karyotype
  • Hydrops
  • Fetal dysrthythhmia

Why Fetal Echocardiography is Important?

But why it is interesting to know about the fetal heart before birth this is so because some of the baby dies immediately after the birth with heart disease if it is not diagnosed at that point of time.

By fetal echocardiography, complex congenital heart disease/defects can be excluded but we should understand that minor heart defects in heart or minor valve problem may not be picked up with 100% accuracy through this procedure.

What could be the Result of Fetal Echocardiography?

If this test, turn out to be normal then it gives immense pleasure and satisfaction to the pregnant mother that this baby is not suffering from any complex heart disease and it is also important for the Obstetrician that they can decide about the place of delivery, site of delivery and timing of the delivery.

If developing baby is suffering from some kind of heart disease then delivery is advisable in higher center with facilities of Pediatric Cardiologist by this way this baby can get proper treatment at right time.

Unfortunately a specific baby is suffering from very severe congenital complex heart disease with lesser chance of survival after birth then Obstetrician can advise not to continue the pregnancy but to terminate the pregnancy.

Lot of focus is being given in the Down syndrome diagnosis which needs Ultrasound test, blood test and some kind of invasive test like amniocentesis but Fetal heart disease can be picked by fetal echocardiography which is ultrasound test without any side effects to mother and the developing fetus.

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