Fetal echocardiography is a noninvasive method of detecting heart problems in unborn babies. If you're pregnant and you or your Obstetrician are concerned about your baby's heart health, expert pediatric cardiologist Laura Boulos, DO, at iHeart Pediatrics in Old Bridge, New Jersey, can help.Find out more by calling iHeart Pediatrics or book an appointment online today.
Fetal echocardiography uses ultrasound technology to produce live images of your baby's heart from within the womb. Sound waves sent out from the transducer — a handheld device connected to the ultrasound machine — bounce off your baby's heart and return to the transducer.
The ultrasound machine translates these echoing sound waves into moving images of the heart and its structures. These images show how well the heart is functioning and whether any parts of the baby's heart aren't developing as they should.
The comprehensive evaluation of your baby's heart provided by a fetal echocardiogram offers far more detailed information than is possible during a routine obstetric ultrasound.
Fetal echocardiograms specialize in assessing and diagnosing congenital heart disease in unborn babies. You might need to have a fetal echocardiogram to determine the safest and most appropriate delivery plan for you and your baby.
If Dr. Boulos finds any abnormalities during your fetal echocardiogram, she discusses these with you in detail and will provide appropriate clinical counseling.
Fetal echocardiograms are most reliably performed after 18 weeks gestation In some cases, Dr. Boulos might need to carry out a follow-up study as well to see how the heart is developing.
It's important to be aware that while fetal echocardiography can detect heart abnormalities beyond the scope of a routine ultrasound, it has some limitations. Depending on the cooperation of the fetus and the clarity of the images, it may not be possible to definitively rule out all heart defects prior to birth, thus Dr. Boulos might recommend that your baby undergo a newborn echocardiogram after they are born.
The fetal echocardiography procedure is just like having a routine ultrasound. You won't need any anesthetic, and shouldn't feel any pain.
Dr. Boulos applies some slippery gel to your abdomen and passes the transducer over your skin. As the images start to appear on the monitor, Dr. Boulos will describe what is seen and discuss it with you during and after the procedure.
If there's any reason to suspect a congenital heart problem in your child, a fetal echocardiogram is a safe and effective tool. For more details, call iHeart Pediatrics or schedule a consultation using the online booking form today.