When expecting a child, ensuring your baby’s health is a top priority for parents and healthcare providers. Monitoring your baby’s heart for any abnormalities early on is crucial; this is where fetal echocardiograms play a vital role.
By examining your baby’s heart while they’re still in the womb, we can diagnose fetal cardiac problems before your baby is even born. This gives you more time to work with experts and develop a treatment plan for your baby’s heart condition.
What is fetal echocardiography?
A fetal echocardiogram (also called a fetal echo) is a prenatal ultrasound that provides a comprehensive view of your unborn baby’s heart. While a traditional fetal ultrasound shows the overall development of your baby, a fetal echo focuses on the fetal heart. A trained cardiac sonographer can collect data on your baby’s blood flow, blood vessels, heart chambers, and fetal heart rate.
The scan provides crucial insights into the health of your baby’s cardiovascular system, and, because any irregularities are detected early in the pregnancy, we have plenty of time to plan out any treatments or interventions. Working with pediatric cardiology experts, Dr. Rad can prepare for your baby’s postnatal care.
Some congenital heart defects require immediate intervention. Knowing about these conditions ahead of time means we can have all necessary experts prepared to treat your newborn.
What are the reasons to have a fetal echocardiogram?
The heart is the most important muscle in the body. Congenital heart problems can put your baby’s long-term health at risk, so most pregnant women want to know in advance if their baby is going to have a heart condition.
Not every pregnancy will need a fetal echo, but if you have risk factors for congenital heart disease (CHD) we may recommend a complete evaluation of the fetal heart.
We may recommend a fetal echocardiogram if:
- You have a family history of congenital heart defects or disease.
- Another test revealed a chromosomal or genetic disorder or birth defect.
- You have certain medical conditions such as diabetes, rubella, or lupus.
How is a fetal echocardiogram done?
If you have a referral for a fetal echocardiogram, it will generally be performed during the second trimester of pregnancy (18-22 weeks gestation). A specially-trained sonographer performs the test, which is very similar to a traditional ultrasound. (However, unlike a normal obstetric ultrasound, you won’t necessarily have to show up with a full bladder.)
Should I worry about an abnormal fetal echocardiogram?
Abnormal results usually indicate congenital heart defects in the baby; however, these defects can range from minor issues that might resolve on their own to more significant abnormalities that may require immediate medical intervention post-delivery.
Fetal echocardiograms allow our doctors to diagnose conditions such as holes in the heart, abnormal heart valves, or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) and develop an appropriate treatment plan to implement immediately after delivery, significantly improving the outlook for your child’s health.
Are fetal echocardiograms safe?
Fetal echocardiograms are non-invasive procedures with no known risks or side effects for the mother or baby. Ultrasound technology uses completely safe sound waves, so there is no exposure to radiation.
Have concerns about your pregnancy? Contact Dr. Rad
Dr. Rad is one of Los Angeles’s premiere high-risk obstetricians and gynecologists and understands the nuances of fetal echocardiogram results. He knows how important early, accurate diagnoses of health problems are and how such diagnoses can improve health outcomes significantly.
For parents facing high-risk pregnancies or who have concerns about their baby’s heart health, the guidance and expertise of a specialized perinatologist are invaluable. Dr. Rad and his world-class Maternal-Fetal Medicine team at Los Angeles Fetal and Maternal Care Center are dedicated to providing comprehensive care and support.
Their expertise in dealing with high-risk obstetric issues and a compassionate approach ensure that you receive the best possible care and support. Whether you have questions about fetal echocardiography, high-risk pregnancy, or need emotional support during this crucial time, Dr. Rad and his team are here to help.
Call us at (844) 473-6100 or schedule your consultation online. We are currently accepting new patients.
We are conveniently located for patients throughout Southern California and the Los Angeles area at locations in or near Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Culver City, Hollywood, Venice, Marina del Rey, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Newport Beach, Irvine, and Downtown Los Angeles. We also offer in-home prenatal care and a fly-in program for out-of-town and international patients. Dr. Rad even travels to patients who need him throughout the U.S. and around the world.
If you can’t make it to Dr. Rad, he also offers virtual consultations worldwide.