IAC Accredited Echo Cardiology Lab

Medical City Children’s Hospital utilizes a full array of innovative diagnostic techniques for pinpointing the existence and severity of congenital heart defects, including fetal echocardiography, cardiovascular MRI and 3-D CT scanning.

Our pediatric echo lab is fully accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) and uses state-of-the-art ultrasound equipment to visualize the beating heart in real time. Advanced technologies such as transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), intracavitary echocardiography (ICE) and real-time pediatric 3-D echocardiography help us evaluate patients with complex congenital heart disease.

All studies are performed by experienced sonographers who are registered in the field of Pediatric Echocardiography by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

What is a fetal echocardiogram?

A fetal echocardiogram is an ultrasound — an imaging test using sound waves with no radiation exposure — like the one used for routine pregnancy exams and to find out the sex of the baby. A fetal echo focuses specifically on producing pictures of a baby’s heart while the baby is in the mother’s womb. The optimal time to perform a fetal echo is between 16 and 22 weeks into a pregnancy.

This test can potentially show all of the cardiac chambers, heart valves and main blood vessels directly attached to the heart and establish information about the heart rate and rhythm. This allows many forms of structural congenital heart disease to be diagnosed in utero. A few examples include hypoplastic left heart syndrome, truncus arteriosus, transposition of the great arteries, Tetralogy of Fallot and ventricular septal defects.

Who should get a fetal echocardiogram?

Some pregnant women have a higher risk of giving birth to a baby with a heart defect. A fetal echocardiogram should be considered if any of the following signs are present:

  • History of congenital heart disease or syndrome in mother, previous child or other family members
  • Abnormal fetal heart rhythm
  • Fetal heart abnormalities detected during a routine pregnancy ultrasound scan
  • Abnormality of another major organ system in fetus
  • Maternal insulin-dependent (type I) diabetes mellitus, type II diabetes or gestational diabetes
  • Exposure to certain drugs in early pregnancy, such as antiepileptic drugs
  • Known or suspicion of abnormal chromosomes or karyotype