What is Fetal cardiology
“Fetal cardiology” is a specialized branch of medicine dealing with the evaluation and management of cardiac problems in the unborn baby while still in the mother’s womb.
Fetal Cardiology services offer a comprehensive approach to the patient including facilities for diagnosis, counseling and treatment of various types of heart problems in the developing fetus. This gives a wider range of management options to the parents and also gives them enough time to take decisions. It also aims to create awareness among the medical community regarding the need and potential benefits of prenatal diagnosis of birth defects of the heart.
We at Ankura Hospital, introduce this subspecialty, with a full time and dedicated Fetal Cardiologist – Dr Anupama Nair who is an expert in this field and has received her formal training in Fetal Cardiology from the two best centers of the world namely Boston Children’s Hospital, U.S.A and Guy’s & St Thomas Hospital, London, UK.
Fetal Cardiology includes the following services:
- Expert evaluation and diagnosis of fetal heart abnormalities by means of FETAL ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY.
- Detailed counseling of your baby’s heart diagnosis and treatment options.
- Personalized delivery planning.
- Fetal heart therapies in selected cases like treatment of fetal arrhythmias, fetal cardiac interventions.
- Comprehensive newborn care provided by a team of an expert pediatric cardiologist, neonatologists and intensivists.
What is fetal echocardiography ?
Fetal echocardiography is a highly specialized and detailed evaluation of the baby’s heart while still in the mother’s womb. Done best and ideally by a Fetal cardiologist or pediatric cardiologist, it involves a detailed ultrasound evaluation of the structure (valves, chamber, partitions, blood vessels) of the baby’s heart. It also assesses the regularity of the fetal heartbeats and the pumping function of the heart. Fetal echo makes it possible to identify in the fetus various structural heart defects as well as heartbeat abnormalities and thus provide appropriate care.
What is the ideal time for Fetal Echocardiography?
The ideal time for this test is between 16-19 weeks of gestation. In some very high risk cases, it may be done as early as 14 weeks of gestation. However in all cases it is preferable to do it before 20 completed weeks of pregnancy.
How is Fetal echocardiography done?
Fetal echocardiography utilizes the same principle of ultrasound as in routine obstetric scan but is more detailed and focused on heart. A routine obstetric scan includes a basic screening of the heart which detects few major cardiac abnormalities. Thereafter a fetal echo by an expert as in our center involves a detailed evaluation including various views and advanced software and technologies like 3D imaging, Tissue Doppler assessment etc.
Also fetal echocardiography does not require the pregnant female to be in a fasting state or to have a full bladder, thus making it quick and convenient.
Who should do a fetal echocardiography?
Fetal echocardiography should ideally be done by a Fetal Cardiologist or a pediatric cardiologist who have an in-depth knowledge of the wide spectrum of congenital heart defects. At our center, this is done by a dedicated Fetal Cardiologist –Dr Anupama Nair who is an expert in this field and has received her formal training in Fetal Cardiology from the two best centers of the world namely Boston Children’s hospital, U.S.A and Guy’s & St Thomas hospital, London, UK.
What are the indications for Fetal Echocardiography?
At present, Fetal Echocardiography is recommended in certain high risk pregnancies and is done for specific maternal or fetal indications.
Maternal indications include:
- Family history of congenital heart defect
- Maternal metabolic disorders like diabetes mellitus or phenylketonuria
- Autoimmune disorders with antibody positive
- Maternal exposure to teratogenic drugs, substances
- In-vitro fertilization pregnancies
- In-utero infection
Fetal indications include:
- Abnormal fetal cardiac screening on obstetric ultrasound
- Abnormal heart rate (slow or fast) or rhythm
- Chromosomal abnormalities
- Extracardiac abnormalities
- Non immune hydrops fetalis
- Increased nuchal translucency
Does fetal echo scan has any harmful effect?
Fetal echocardiography is done using the common ultrasound principle and is very safe. It has no harmful effect on the fetus even if performed multiple times in pregnancy.
[You might be interested in this : Food to Keep Your Children’s Heart Healthy]
About the doctor
Dr. Anupama K Nair
MBBS, DNB (Pediatrics)
FNB (Pediatric Cardiology)
Fetal Cardiology (USA & UK)
Consultant Fetal & Pediatric Cardiologist
[You might be interested in this : Types of Heart Defects in Children]
About The Hospital
Ankura is a chain of Children’s Hospital in Hyderabad. Set up in the year 2011 in KPHB, near Hitech Railway Station, the Ankura Hospitals family has today spread its wings to Secunderabad, Khammam and Vijayawada.