A fetal echocardiogram, is an ultrasound of a baby's heart done while the baby is in the mother's womb. Ultrasound uses sound waves to take pictures of the heart.
Heart defects are among the most common congenital abnormalities. Such abnormalities occur in about .8% of newborns. Current diagnostic techniques are dependent upon referral of pregnant women who are considered at increased risk for CHD for evaluation by fetal echocardiography. Early detection can be made at about 20 weeks of gestation. It is not just those women who have risk factors who have babies with CHD. No risk factors are present in half the pregnancies in which CHD is detected prenatally.
Careful attention to current clinical guidelines for identifying pregnancies at increased risk for congenital anomalies and CHD and timely referral for fetal echocardiography are the cornerstones for screening.
Fetal echocardiographic evaluation reportedly has a sensitivity in detecting congenital heart disease up to 85%. Experience, training and skill greatly influence and increase the value of the study. Dr. Rivera has 17 years experience doing fetal echocardiograms.