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Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Mar;37(3):296-301. doi: 10.1002/uog.8934. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

Fetal echocardiography at 11-13 weeks by transabdominal high-frequency ultrasound.

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Department of Fetal Medicine, King's College Hospital, London, UK.



To assess the accuracy of fetal echocardiography at 11-13 weeks performed by well-trained obstetricians using a high-frequency linear ultrasound transducer.


Fetal echocardiography was performed by obstetricians immediately before chorionic villus sampling for fetal karyotyping at 11-13 weeks. Digital videoclips of the examination stored by the obstetrician were reviewed offline by a specialist fetal cardiologist.


The obstetrician suspected 95 (95%) of the 100 cardiac defects identified by the fetal cardiologist and made the correct diagnosis in 84 (84%) of these cases. In 54 fetuses, the defect was classified as major and in 46 it was minor. In 767 (86.6%) cases, the heart was normal and in 19 (2.1%) the views were inadequate for assessment of normality or abnormality. A subsequent second-trimester scan in the normal group identified major cardiac defects in four cases. Therefore, the first-trimester scan by the obstetricians and cardiologists identified 54 (93.1%) of the 58 major cardiac defects.


A well-trained obstetrician using high-resolution ultrasound equipment can assess the fetal heart at 11-13 weeks with a high degree of accuracy.

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