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Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital introduces the new “ Fetal Cardiology Unit” with Dr Anupama Nair as a full time and dedicated Fetal Cardiologist. She is an expert in this field and has received her formal training in Fetal Cardiology from the three best centers of the world namely Boston Children’s hospital, U.S.A and Guy’s & St Thomas hospital, London, UK and Sickkids Hospital Toronto, Canada.
“Fetal cardiology” is a specialised branch of medicine dealing with the evaluation and management of cardiac problems in the unborn baby while still in the mother’s womb.
Fetal cardiology offer a comprehensive approach to the patient including facilities for diagnosis, counseling and treatment of various types of heart problems in the developing fetus. This gives a wider range of management options to the parents and also gives them enough time to take decisions.
Fetal Cardiology includes the following services:
Fetal echocardiography is a highly specialized and detailed evaluation of the baby’s heart while still in the mother’s womb. Done best and ideally by a Fetal cardiologist or pediatric cardiologist, it involves a detailed ultrasound evaluation of the structure (valves, chamber, partitions, blood vessels) of the baby’s heart. It also assesses the regularity of the fetal heartbeats and the pumping function of the heart. Fetal echo makes it possible to identify in the fetus various structural heart defects as well as heartbeat abnormalities and thus provide appropriate care.
On an average, it takes 20-30 minutes for a fetal echo study. However it might take longer if the baby has a complex heart defect or the fetal position is not favourable.
The ideal time for this test is between 18-20 weeks of gestation. In some very high risk cases, it may be done as early as 14-16 weeks of gestation.
Fetal echocardiography utilizes the same principle of ultrasound as in routine obstetric scan but is more detailed and focused on heart. A routine obstretic scan includes a basic screening of the heart which detects few major cardiac abnormalities. Thereafter a fetal echo by an expert as in our center involves a detailed evaluation including various views and advanced software and technologies like 3D imaging, Tissue Doppler assessment etc.
Also fetal echocardiography does not require the pregnant female to be in a fasting state or to have a full bladder, thus making it quick and convenient.
Fetal echocardiography should ideally be done by a Fetal Cardiologist or a pediatric cardiologist who have an in-depth knowledge of the wide spectrum of congenital heart defects. At our center, this is done by a dedicated Fetal Cardiologist –Dr. Anupama Nair who is an expert in this field.
At present, Fetal Echocardiography is recommended in certain high risk pregnancies and is done for specific maternal or fetal indications.
Maternal indications include –
Fetal indications include –
Fetal echocardiography is done using the common ultrasound principle and is very safe. It has no harmful effect on the fetus even if performed multiple times in pregnancy.
These are disorders of the fetal heart rate which can be abnormally slow or fast and can prove life threatening to the baby.
Yes. Fetal arrhythmias can be treated before birth by using various drugs given either transplacentally through mother or directly into the baby. This markedly reduces the risk of death and hydrops.
These are procedures done within the baby’s heart in certain conditions while the baby is still in mother’s womb. It includes dilating the heart valves or placing a stent.
There are immense benefits and this is the only scientific way to approach a mother-to-be with an abnormal fetal heart.
To quote few of them: