Fetal Heart Clinic
The cardiac team at Children's Hospital & Medical Center understands the importance of accurate and early diagnosis of congenital heart disease even before your baby's birth. Since the early 1980s, the Heart Center at Children's has been providing advanced cardiac imaging and consultative services to expectant parents and obstetrical teams throughout the region.
When it is determined that a pregnancy is at high risk for critical heart disease, the Heart Center can provide the key diagnostic information that is so vital for planning the best treatment strategy. Fetal echocardiography is the primary noninvasive test used to obtain a picture of the heart as early as 18 to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Using this ultrasound technique, our fetal cardiologists will evaluate the structure of your baby's heart, the strength of the heart muscle, the cardiac rhythm, and the patterns of cardiovascular blood flow.
After the test, you will meet with the fetal cardiologist to discuss the results. When heart disease is diagnosed, the fetal cardiologist will recommend the safest and most effective plan of care. In some cases, this may involve a surgical operation to repair the heart. Arrangements will then be made for you to meet with one of our pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons to discuss the surgery. Our highly trained and experienced team of cardiothoracic surgeons perform surgery on the most complex cardiac defects and have one of the highest success rates in the country.
Occasionally, a small number of babies with cardiac defects may benefit from catheter intervention for their heart disease even before birth. On the rare occasions that these circumstances occur, the Heart Center collaborates with an investigational team in Boston, which has the greatest worldwide experience with these procedures. There are benefits and risks associated with treating congenital heart disease before birth, and these are weighed carefully on a case-by-case basis before committing to this approach.
Scheduling a prenatal cardiac diagnosis for your child is most appropriate for the following reasons: a strong family history of congenital heart disease; an abnormal fetal heart rhythm; a mother with diabetes or other health condition that might impact the developing heart; a baby with a chromosome abnormality like Down syndrome, or even a heart that just doesn't look right on a general obstetrics ultrasound screen. Your obstetrician can tell you whether any of these conditions are present for you and your baby. Whatever your baby's needs, the Heart Center is ready and equipped with sophisticated imaging, compassionate consultative services, and an experienced team to diagnose and treat the most challenging congenital heart diseases.