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First-Trimester Fetal Echocardiography Program

ultrasound exam during the first trimester of pregnancy

The First-Trimester Fetal Echocardiography Program allows for the diagnosis of major congenital heart defects early in pregnancy. To diagnose these potential defects, a specialized ultrasound examination of the heart is performed between 11 and 14 weeks gestation. The physician team at the Center for Fetal Therapy has long-standing experience in this technique and is able to offer further diagnostic testing and prenatal treatment for a range of conditions. First-trimester fetal echocardiography is most useful under the following circumstances:

  • Following an abnormal combined first-trimester nuchal translucency screening:
    • Nuchal translucency greater than 3.5 millimeters
    • Abnormal orientation of the heart (cardiac axis)
    • Reversed blood flow in the ductus venosus
    • Reversed blood flow across the tricuspid valve
    • Abnormal fetal heart rate
  • Pre-existing maternal diabetes, especially if the hemoglobin A1c is greater than 7.5
  • Familial risk for congenital heart disease:
    • Prior child with congenital heart defect
    • Mother with congenital heart defect

Providing earlier prenatal diagnosis offers greater potential for fetal intervention in some forms of congenital heart disease, including:

Multidisciplinary Patient Care

The First-Trimester Fetal Echocardiography Program at the Center for Fetal Therapy is designed to provide diagnosis of congenital heart disease, and offer genetic counseling and further diagnostic testing at the earliest possible time in pregnancy. Together with our colleagues in pediatric cardiology, pediatric cardiac surgery, neonatology and the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, we optimize the prenatal care path and delivery planning to offer the best start for babies with congenital heart disease.

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