Fetal echocardiography is an ultrasound test performed during pregnancy to evaluate the heart of the unborn baby. Fetal echocardiography uses ultrasound technology, which does not cause any harm to the fetus or the mother. This procedure can detect heart problems in a fetus as early as four months after conception, however the scan be reliably performed at 20 weeks to 24 weeks. fetal echocardiograms are most often ordered as a precautionary measure if you have a condition that increases your risk for fetal heart defects, like diabetes; if you’ve had a previous child with congenital heart disease; or if you’ve been exposed to certain infections or medications. The test can detect a range of problems, including congenital heart defects, arrhythmias, cardiac tumors and abnormalities in the heart function.
The diagnosis is important to give doctors time to prepare for an emergency situation at birth, or even treat some problems before birth. It allows a doctor to counsel the expecting parents, make arrangements for delivery at an appropriate medical center, make a plan for those fetuses requiring urgent interventions after birth or even treat fetal heart rhythm problems. Experts can use this test to evaluate the effect on the heart of non-cardiac disorders and determine whether further treatment is necessary.