Fetal echocardiography, also known as a fetal echo, is a diagnostic test that uses ultrasound to create images of a developing baby's heart while still in the womb. This test is typically performed during the second trimester of pregnancy, between weeks 18 and 24.
During a fetal echo, a specially trained technician or doctor uses a transducer to send and receive sound waves that create images of the baby's heart on a computer screen. The test can help identify any structural abnormalities or functional problems with the baby's heart, such as holes in the heart, valve abnormalities, or abnormal heart rhythms.
Fetal echocardiography is a non-invasive procedure that does not involve any radiation and is generally considered safe for both the mother and the baby. It can provide important information about the baby's heart health, and help doctors plan for any necessary treatment or care after the baby is born.
Fetal echocardiography is typically recommended for women who have a higher risk of having a baby with a heart defect, such as those with a family history of heart defects, certain medical conditions, or exposure to certain medications or substances during pregnancy. It can also be recommended for women who had a previous baby with a heart defect, or for those with abnormal findings on routine prenatal ultrasounds.