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January 1990

Clinical Experience With Fetal Echocardiography

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Pediatric Cardiology (Drs Wheller and Allen) and the Department of Obstetrics (Dr Reiss), Ohio State University, Columbus, and Columbus (Ohio) Children's Hospital (Drs Wheller and Allen).

Am J Dis Child. 1990;144(1):49-53. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150250059031

• Current ultrasound technology allows for accurate evaluation of the fetal heart. To evaluate the importance and accuracy of the routine clinical use of fetal echocardiography at our center, a consecutive series of 338 fetal cardiac studies of 323 patients was reviewed. Average gestational age was 24 weeks (range, 17 to 39 weeks). Forty-seven (15%) patients with abnormal conditions were detected. The most common indication for fetal cardiac scan was a family history of congenital heart disease (28%). Other indications were maternal diabetes mellitus (25%), fetal dysrhythmia (14%), other major defect (10%), drug exposure (10%), and obstetrician suspicion of fetal congenital heart disease on routine scan (10%). The highest yield of significant abnormal findings was among those referred for dysrhythmia (31%) and obstetrician suspicion of congenital heart disease (29%). Five fetuses with sustained supraventricular tachycardia and hydrops were successfully treated. The combination of fetal bradycardia and structural heart disease was the most ominous finding. Fifteen (4.6%) patients had clear changes in management based on the fetal echocardiogram. Our experience suggests that the routine use of fetal echocardiography is accurate and an important part of the overall management of the pregnancy considered at risk for producing an infant with congenital heart disease.

(AJDC. 1990;144:49-53)