Soirée Kids: What Are Fetal Echocardiograms?

Dr. Renee Bornemeier is a pediatric cardiologist and director of the Fetal Heart Center at Arkansas Children’s Hospital & Professor of Pediatric Cardiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

What is a fetal echocardiogram?

RB: A fetal echocardiogram (echo) is a specialized type of ultrasound that looks at the structure, rhythm and function of an unborn baby’s heart.

When is a fetal echo recommended?

RB: A fetal echo might be recommended for a baby with an abnormal appearing heart, heart rhythm or other malformations. A few common maternal indications would be diabetes, autoimmune disorders or certain medication exposures. Risk factors in the family could include close relatives with a congenital heart defect or genetic disorder.

Why is a fetal echo important?

RB: Prenatal diagnosis of heart abnormalities allows health care providers to make the safest plan for the baby’s arrival and prepare parents for what interventions or surgeries may be needed in the future.

When should a fetal echo be performed?

RB: This type of scan is best performed during the second trimester of pregnancy. Scans performed earlier or later in pregnancy may have limitations due to fetal size, position or image quality.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital is nationally ranked in heart care. Call for an appointment with one of our pediatric heart experts.

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Little Rock, AR 72202

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