If during your pregnancy you underwent all requested ultrasound examinations in order to make sure of your baby’s safe and proper progression why not check the correct and healthy development of the “motor of life”, your fetus’ heart? Now it is within your reach at our clinic!
Fetal cardiac ultrasound examination
Examination of the fetus’ heart is very important in relation to its health, fate or fortune and prenatal care. The optimal time of the examination is between the fetal age of 18 and 22 weeks (especially the 20th week), when the heart of the fetus has already become large enough for scanning (although actually not yet longer than 20 millimeters). Even nowadays congenital heart diseases are six times more frequent than chromosome abnormalities. Our clinic provides the most up-to-date ultrasound equipment operated by a specialist having wide experience and professionality.
Why has the fetal cardiac ultrasound examination (echocardiography) great importance and what is the method applied?
Examination of the heart of the fetus in the uterus needs to be executed by a specialist with long practice, profession and proficiency in pediatric cardiology – this is the reason why it is carried out by a pediatric cardiologist. By means of the most up-to-date ultrasonic technics we could observe ever-finer details even in fetal age. In the course of the examination of the intra-uterine heart, the specialist could check-up the heart’s anatomy and functioning of the heart valves or cardiac muscles, measure blood flow and detect heart frequency by means of a specially developed ultrasonic heart scanning probe. As a result the image – based on section planes reconstructed practically in 3D form – a number of complex heart defects, heart developmental disorders and most cases of cardiac dysrhythmia could be screened before the baby is born. Moreover the detected minor markers may raise the suspicion of the existence of a chromosome abnormality. In nearly 40 % of the chromosome abnormality cases congenital heart defects are also diagnosed.
Why is this examination recommended?
Even nowadays congenital heart defects are the most common developmental disorders: they are six times more frequent than chromosome abnormalities. A baby out of every hundred suffers from a more or less serious heart defect.
Diagnosing the type of pre-natal heart developmental defect, the specialist could provide information to the parents about the prognosis of their unborn child’s disease, the possibilities for pharmacological therapy, surgical intervention or catheter treatment. Besides it is very important to have the baby’s delivery in an adequate obstetric center where a doctors’ team, specialized for heart defects, could be at their service and could significantly increase the unborn baby’s life expectancy.
Why just the 20th week?
Passing the 20th week the fetus’ heart already became large enough to have an exact image in the course of the specialist’s examination whether cardiac development is correct or not. If recommended by the doctor, in some cases examination may be performed earlier but it is always important to repeat it again at a later stage of pregnancy.
To whom is the fetal cardiac ultrasound examination recommended?
It is important to know that as per statistics the major part (cca. 90 %) of heart developmental defects are diagnosed from so-called “low risk”, problem-free pregnancies – this is the reason why we have to take into consideration the recourse to this examination.
It is also important to get acquainted with the cases where the emergence of heart developmental defects is more frequent and to know which young mothers are facing higher risks:
- families where congenital heart defects have already taken place (father, mother, older sibling, grandparents)
- if the young mother has a disease which makes the baby susceptible to heart developmental disorders (autoimmune diseases, insulin-dependent diabetes)
- in cases where during the first stage of pregnancy the young mother took medicines harmful to the fetus or the embryo was exposed to other teratogenic traumas (certain viral infections, toxic materials, alcohol etc.)
- if the suspicion of fetal cardiac arrhythmia or heart defect emerges during a gynecological examination
- if at the first ultrasound screening the nuchal translucency (skin behind the fetal neck) is thick
- if results of the integrated test show medium or high risk
- in case of suspicion of chromosome abnormality
- if the age of the mother is over 35-37 years
- in case of multiple pregnancy
- if pregnancy was generated by in vitro fertilization (IVF)
- if the ultrasonic scan detects other disorders like too much or too few amniotic fluid, abnormal fetal development, fluid in the chest, around the heart
- if there is a suspicion of other fetal organs’ developmental disorders (hydronephrosis, cerebral cyst, two blood vessels in the umbilical cord)
- abnormal flow detected at early pregnancy (ductus venosus flow)
all cases where young mothers prefer to wait their unborn baby in an utmost maternal bliss and to exclude the probability of serious complex fetal heart developmental defects