What is Fetal Echo Test?
Fetal echo test is just like an ultrasound test that radiologists are routinely doing in all pregnancies.
Important thing that every patient should be aware of is that this test should be done only by a pediatric cardiologist as they are aware of various congenital problems of the heart as compared to cardiologist who deals with adult heart diseases or a radiologist who is not well aware of fetal heart ailments. This will help the patients in reducing the chances of missing of fetal heart problems
Fetal echo test helps in identifying fetal cardiac ailments like birth defects in the heart including holes in the heart, abnormal positions of vessels in the heart like TGA or cTGA, abnormal heart valves like Ebstein’s anomaly, heart beat problems like bradycardia. Also we can assess whether heart pumping is good or not, or is there any collection of fluid around the heart or not, to mention a few.
By noticing any of the fetal heart diseases even before birth of the baby, we can counsel the family in detail regarding the prognosis and outcome of that particular ailment as well as we can plan place of delivery where full facility of pediatric cardiology services are available. By doing these things, we can save many of the children as mortality with few heart diseases is very high in first few hours of the life.
Fetal echo test is free from adverse effects both to the mother and fetus.
When is fetal echocardiography used?
Shall we do fetal echo test in each pregnancy?
Answer is little difficult as on level II ultrasound that is being carried out in almost all pregnancies, we can detect about 40% of fetal heart diseases. If level II USG has reported normal, then mostly fetal echo is not advised.
But few high risk pregnancies should undergo fetal echo but not limited to:
- Abnormal ultrasound test report like single umbilical artery, hydrops, decreased or increased amniotic fluid etc
- Age of the mother >35 years
- Abnormal blood test reports especially for Down syndrome etc.
- History of diabetes or phenylketonuria or rubella, SLE etc in the mother
- If there is a known case of heart disease in a previously delivered child or positive family history of cardiac problem
- If mother or father have a known case of congenital heart defects.
- X-ray or few known drug exposure (drugs for diabetes, seizure, depression etc) in first 3 months of pregnancy
- Multiple fetuses (Twin or triplet pregnancy)
- Pregnancy not related to natural process (in-vitro fertilization, IVF, IUI etc).
Do I need to prepare for Fetal Echo Test?
- No preparation is required before this test.
- Patients do not need to hold the urine as required in other ultrasound tests
- Also, there is no requirement of empty stomach before the test.
What happens during the Fetal Echo test?
- Fetal echo is similar to a routine pregnancy ultrasound.
- Mostly done from abdomen of the mother.
- Ultrasound utilizes sound waves so no effect occurs on the fetus growth and development.
Are there any risks associated with Fetal Echo test?
There are no known adverse effects while conducting fetal echo test as USG does not have any radiation.
Fetal Echo Test Cost
Fetal echo test price is Rs 3000/- onwards for single pregnancy and Rs. 4800/- onwards for Twin pregnancy.
Duration of Fetal Echo Test
Fetal echo test can take from 10 minutes to hours depending on multiple factors.
Importance of Fetal Echo Test
- If fetal echo test shows some form of serious heart issue then this helps the parents in planning the pregnancy.
- Rarely, we need to repeat this test if the previous fetal echo was not conclusive due to the poor images.