What is Fetal Echo ?
Fetal echo is also known as a fetal heart scan. It is similar to the routine scans that you have during pregnancy but focuses specifically on your baby’s heart. We use ultrasound to take pictures of the baby’s heart to see how it is developing and to look at the blood flow around it.
Why it’s Done
It is done to check if your baby’s heart is developing normally.
This scan is able to detect any problems in the fetal heart. However, some heart problems can only be detected once the baby is born.
If in case, a problem has been identified in your baby, we will try to explain to you all the options available- like if your baby will require any medical or surgical treatments. We will also let you know about the seriousness of the condition and when the treatment is likely to be given to the baby.
How to Prepare
There is no special preparation for the fetal echo scan. These specialised heart scans are done by well-trained sonographers. These are carried out in a similar way as your routine scans in the pregnancy. Usually, the scan is done in the room that is dimly lit so as obtain better quality images for the baby.
You will be asked to lie down on a couch for the scan, lift your top to your chest, and to lower your trousers so as to uncover your abdomen.
Usually, the assistant will tuck a tissue around your clothes so as to protect them from the gel that will be applied to your tummy
Some gel will be applied to your belly, which might feel a little cold. Then an ultrasound probe is used to get some pictures of your baby’s heart.
Several factors like the age, the position of your baby, and the liquor around your baby can affect the quality of the images obtained. Your body weight also affects the image quality as it might interfere with the penetration of the ultrasound waves
A Fetal echo scan is usually done after 20 weeks. It might take around 5-20 minutes to perform the scan depending on the various factors mentioned above.
What you can expect
This scan is mostly suggesting by your treating doctor to get a detailed scan of your baby’s heart. However, it does not mean that your baby has some heart problem.
Your obstetrician (doctor specialising in pregnancy), may have suggested that you have this scan so that your baby’s heart can be checked in more detail.
In case any problem is detected, we will explain to you about the same and the various treatment options available.
- If on the routine anomaly scan, the heart is not seen clearly or some cardiac or any other abnormality is suspected.
- History of congenital heart disease in you, your partner, or in any previous child.
- History of diabetes mellitus or a connective tissue disorder.
- Polyhydramnios or increased liquor around your baby.
- Increased nuchal translucency or an excessive amount of fluid collected behind the neck of your baby
- History of intake of any anti-epileptics or anti-depressants or any other medication which can affect your baby’s heart.
- Multiple pregnancies (twins or triplets)
What Are the Risks?
The fetal heart scan usually doesn’t have any specific risks.
Slight pressure applied to your belly in order to get better views may be a little uncomfortable.
You might feel a little cold, once the gel is applied to your abdomen
Sometimes, it can get a little difficult to get good views of your baby, if the baby is moving a lot during the scan, or lying in some awkward position. However, this doesn’t mean that anything is wrong and you need not worry about it.
Ultrasound scans use only sound waves, these are safe for your baby.
There are no serious risks associated with the fetal echo scan.