A fetal echocardiogram is an ultrasound study used to evaluate the baby’s heart. Generally it is performed at approximately 22 weeks when the baby’s heart size is about the size of a quarter. Fetal heart defects may be serious, so it is important to try to identify them early so plans can be made for appropriate referrals, delivery and nursery care.
Some reasons to perform a fetal echocardiogram include pre-gestational diabetes, a previous child with a congenital heart problem, heart problems in the family, abnormal fetal heart beat, use of some medications and abnormal genetic (chromosomal) screening.
Fetal echocardiogram requires experience and time. Even in the best hands, not all the fetal heart problems can be diagnosed. If the gestational age is early or the baby’s position make the heart difficult to visualize, some views of the heart are limited. On occasion it is necessary to bring the patient back at a later date to complete the evaluation.
No dangerous fetal effects have been described with the use of sonography to evaluate the baby’s heart. Tallahassee Perinatal Consultants has an experienced doctor that is certified in advanced fetal echocardiography. Our doctor will explain to you the procedure, findings and recommendations.