Fetal echocardiography is used for the prenatal detection of congenital heart abnormalities and is part of the differential organ diagnosis in the 20th-23rd week of pregnancy. Heart defects are among the most common congenital abnormalities and early diagnosis enables the pregnancy, birth and subsequent care to be monitored as best as possible.
Our aim, together with our cooperating partners (German Heart Centre Munich), is to examine and inform couples affected in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary way and to provide the newborn baby with the best possible care.
Fetal echocardiography includes assessing the position and size of the heart, the morphology of the heart’s ventricles and valves and of the incoming arteries and outgoing large vessels. By means of targeted echocardiography and with the aid of special ultrasound technologies, such as colour Doppler, pulsed Doppler, M-mode and 3D technology (STIC), approx. 85 % of all congenital heart defects can be detected. The prerequisites for this are special training and experience on the part of the examiner in conjunction with high quality equipment.
A differential heart assessment should be performed in case of:
- increased nuchal translucency in the first trimester screening
- esp. heart defects during the ultrasound scan
- abnormal CTG, esp. dysrhythmia
- heart defects in the family
- maternal condition, e.g. diabetes mellitus, autoimmune diseases etc.
- taking medication, drugs, alcohol
- Infections of the mother: rubella, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis
In the event of corresponding indications, e.g. swollen nuchal fold in the early stages, an early heart assessment can be performed as early as the 16th week of pregnancy.