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Fetal Echocardiography

 The incidence of congenital heart disease in the general population is about 10/1000 live births and this incidence is much higher in case of children born out of consanguineous marriages, diabetic mothers, higher parental age etc. Over the past decade , Specialized echocardiographic techniques have evolved as a major component of the noninvasive diagnosis of pediatric and fetal heart disease. 

What is fetal echocardiography?

Fetal echocardiography is an ultrasound test performed during pregnancy to evaluate the heart of the unborn baby. This is a test using sound waves (ultrasound) to show the structure of an unborn baby’s heart. An obstetrician may get a limited view of a baby’s heart during a routine pregnancy ultrasound. However, a Cardiologist  with specialist training in fetal echocardiography can study a baby’s heart in great detail using a fetal echocardiogram.

Who needs a detailed fetal echocardiogram?

Some pregnant women are at higher risk of giving birth to a baby with a heart defect. They should be considered for referral for a specialized fetal echocardiogram. Indications include

  • If a sibling was born with a congenital (present at birth) heart defect.
  • A family history of congenital heart disease (such as parents, aunts or uncles, or grandparents).
  • A chromosomal or genetic abnormality discovered in the fetus.
  • If a mother has taken certain medications that may cause congenital heart defects, such as anti-seizure medications or prescription acne medications.
  • If the mother has abused alcohol or drugs during pregnancy.
  • If a mother has diabetes, phenylketonuria, or a connective tissue disease such as lupus.
  • If the mother has had rubella during pregnancy.
  • A routine prenatal ultrasound has discovered possible heart abnormalities.
  • an abnormal fetal heart rhythm .\
  •  abnormality of another major organ system


When can a fetal echocardiogram be performed?

The heart motion can be seen from about 6 weeks of gestation.

Fetal echocardiograms are usually performed in the second trimester of pregnancy, at about 18 weeks. The test is sometimes done earlier in pregnancy using transvaginal ultrasound (the ultrasound probe is inserted in the mother’s vagina), but will be repeated later to confirm any findings.

ECHO Tests performed for Fetus are:

2-D (2-dimensional) echocardiography

Doppler echocardiography

Color Doppler

What conditions can be identified?

  • abnormalities of cardiac structure (CHD)
  • cardiac rhythm disturbances (or arrhythmias)
  • disorders of cardiac function


limitations of fetal echocardiography?

Some heart abnormalities are not detectable prenatally even with a detailed expert examination. These tend to be minor defects, such as small holes in the heart, or mild valve abnormalities. In addition, some cardiac defects do not become evident until after birth.

The Fetal echocardiographic examination provides an opportunity to correlate anatomic , hemodynamic and electrophysiological information. Fetal echocardiography makes it possible to assess the effects of abnormal anatomic states on fetal cardiovascular hemodynamics and abnormal arrhythmic states on in utero hemodynamics , and thus, determine the need for therapeutic intervention and the type of intervention necessary.

For Further Details Please contact






Visiting Consultant –Mediclinic Subai.


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