Fetal echocardiography is a specialized ultrasound study that focuses on the fetal heart. We look at the structure of and blood flow through the fetal heart and fetal cardiac rhythm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Indications for fetal echocardiography include:
- Previous child born with a congenital heart defect
- Other family history of heart problems
- Maternal diabetes
- Fetal arrhythmia (abnormal cardiac rhythm)
- Positive maternal SS-A and/or SS-B antibodies
- Medication or teratogen exposure
- Fetus with noncardiac abnormalities
- Fetus with a chromosomal abnormality
- Abnormal screening ultrasound
- Maternal PKU
- IVF pregnancy
- Monochorionic twins
Fetal echocardiograms are noninvasive, performed by qualified sonographers and interpreted by a maternal-fetal medicine specialist in the field of fetal echocardiography.
Most fetal echocardiography studies are performed greater than or equal to 20 weeks of gestation for specific indications. Early fetal echocardiography may be performed between 11 to 16 weeks, and in such cases, a complete fetal echocardiogram follow-up will be recommended again at greater than or equal to 20 weeks of gestation.
Fetal echocardiography is painless and noninvasive, and you should experience no difference from a regular ultrasound, other than sounds from the ultrasound machine created by the flow of blood in the vessel or valve being sampled. You may be asked to hold your breath or remain still while the sonographer obtains the Doppler sample.
Fetal echocardiograms are performed in one of our private ultrasound suites. Coordination of appointments with a pediatric cardiologist is provided for those patients requiring additional cardiology services. Our department works in conjunction with Johns Hopkins Pediatric Cardiology to offer the very best in prenatal care to a mother and her unborn child.
A written report is usually available within 24 hours of your exam date.