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Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2005 Apr;45(2):117-21.

Utility of fetal echocardiogram in high-risk patients.

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Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.



Patients at high risk of fetal congenital heart disease are commonly referred for second trimester fetal echocardiogram. The objective of this study was to evaluate the utility of routine fetal echocardiogram in high-risk patients after the evaluation of the four-chamber/left ventricular outflow tract (LVOT) views during comprehensive second trimester anatomy ultrasound.


Second trimester comprehensive anatomy ultrasounds, which included a four-chamber/LVOT view, and subsequent fetal echocardiograms carried out at the Duke University Medical Center from January 1995 and July 2002 were reviewed. Those fetal echocardiograms carried out between 17 and 30 weeks gestation were included in the analysis.


A total of 725 individual subjects met the inclusion criteria. Twenty-nine fetal echocardiograms were ultimately reported as abnormal. Of these, 19 had an abnormal four-chamber/LVOT view, four had a suboptimal view and six had a normal view. Of the six patients with a normal four-chamber/LVOT, all had been referred for echocardiogram based on the presence of other significant fetal anomalies noted at the time of second trimester anatomy ultrasound (3), documented aneuploidy (2), and significant fetal arrhythmia (1).


Utility in carrying out fetal echocardiogram was seen in patients with an abnormal four-chamber/LVOT view, a suboptimal view in a high-risk patient, and the presence of other significant fetal abnormalities. Utility was not seen in patients with pre-existing diabetes mellitus.

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