Wednesday, 16 July 2014

*Fetal Heart Scan: Everything you Need to Know*

Similar to a routine scan you’d have during your pregnancy, a fetal heart scan is an ultrasound examination that focuses specifically on your baby’s heart. The scan is available from 13 weeks of pregnancy and is undertaken to look for any congenital heart defects.

Reasons for Needing a Fetal Heart Scan 
So why should you have a fetal heart scan? A heart defect is the most common abnormality a baby can be born with, and these accounts for 25% of all birth defects. Around one baby in every hundred has a heart defect. The 20 week scan only picks up around half of heart defects, whereas a specialist fetal heart scan identifies most heart defects, and is therefore encouraged.

During your nuchal scan, you will receive a nuchal translucency (NT) measurement. If your baby’s measurement is more than
2.5mm, it is advisable to have a routine fetal heart scan. This does not necessarily mean your baby has a congenital heart defect. An enlarged nuchal measurement is simply a possible indicator of a problem.

You will also be encouraged to opt for this scan if:
  • You have a family history of heart problems 
  • You have diabetes
  • A previous child was born with heart disease
  • An irregularity in your baby’s heart has been detected

You may need more than one fetal heart scan, depending on your circumstances. Why? If you have the scan performed early on in your pregnancy to exclude any major heart deformities, it may need to be repeated later on when the fetal heart is more developed.

What Happens During the Scan?
During the scan, the consultant will discuss your case history, review your previous scan reports and perform a detailed scan of your baby’s heart. 

The scan is performed using a high-tech Doppler and colour scanning machines. The consultant will be able to see how the blood is flowing through your baby’s arteries and veins.  Ventricular or atrial septal defects in the heart, the narrowing of arteries, and valves that don’t open and close properly will also be visible during this scan.

Most scans will indicate that your baby’s heart is normal. However if a serious problem is identified, it is better to find out early on, as most defects can be repaired before birth. You will need to give birth in a hospital with a specialist unit so that if the baby needs surgery after birth, you’ll be in the right place.

Whilst this high-tech scan may sound slightly daunting, the safety of the fetal heart scan should not be a concern. It will pose no known risks to your baby and will tell you a lot more about how your fetus is developing.

If you would like to know more about the fetal heart scan, contact the London Ultrasound Centre on 020 79083878. Book an appointment today and receive expert care and support from the team of professional consultants on hand.

**This is a guest post