128 Fetal Echocardiography, When You Need - Pregnancy Tests and Procedur Health Library

When You Need Fetal EchocardiographySi usted requiere una ecocardiograf­a fetal

When You Need Fetal Echocardiography

Fetal echocardiography (echo) is an imaging test. It uses sound waves (ultrasound) to form pictures of a baby's heart before birth. The test checks for certain problems in a baby's heart structure or heart rhythm. Detection of these problems allows for understanding and management of a child's heart problem as early as possible. The test is painless and noninvasive.

Who Needs Fetal Echo?

Fetal echo can be done when you're at least 16 weeks pregnant. Your doctor may recommend this test if you:

With fetal echocardiography, a transducer is moved across your abdomen to take pictures of your baby's heart.

  • Had a pregnancy ultrasound that rais ed concern about a possible heart problem.

  • Had problems detected by an amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. These are tests that check for genetic diseases and chromosomal problems.

  • Have a family history of congenital heart disease.

  • Are taking certain medications that may affect your baby's development.

  • Have a family history of certain genetic diseases linked with heart defects and disease.   

  • Have diabetes or other conditions.

Before the Test

  • You may need to have a full bladder for the test.

  • Follow all other instructions given by your doctor.

During the Test

The test is performed by an ultrasound technologist or a specially trained cardiologist. A cardiologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats heart problems. The test lasts about 30-60 minutes.

  • You lie on an exam table with your abdomen uncovered.

  • Clear, non-greasy gel is applied to your skin.

  • A hand-held transducer (probe) is moved across your abdomen.

  • Sound waves from the transducer are processed by a computer. Images of your baby's heart are seen on a screen.

After the Test

  • Unless told not to, you can return to your normal routine and diet right away.

  • Your doctor may discuss early results with you right after the test. You'll receive complete results when they're ready.

Risks and Possible Complications of Fetal Echo

There are no known risks and complications associated with fetal echo.

What Are the Limitations of Fetal Echo?

Most complex heart problems can be diagnosed with fetal echo. But certain heart problems can't be diagnosed until after the baby is born.

Date Last Reviewed:

Date Last Modified: 2006-11-02T00:00:00-06:00