Fetal detailed Ultrasound scan (ecocardiography)

What is it?

Fetal ultrasound imaging or ecocardiography are non invasive and safe techniques based upon ultrasound suitable for all stages of ptregnancy from the first to the third trimester of pregnancy. Ultrasound is widely used for diagnosis of fetal defects.

When is this exam indicated?

Screening ultrasound scans are indicated in all pregnancies at standargized gestational ages (11-14 weeks; 19-22 weeks; 32-36 weeks). Differently, detailed fetal ultrasound or cardiac scan are indicated when a fetal defect is suspected or diagnosed.  This is a more specific ultrasound examination carried out with top level ultrasound equipment and carried out in specialized centers in which operators with the maximum expertise and experience are available. 

How is it performed?

Detailed ultrasound scans upon specific indications or echocardiography may have variable durations ranging from 20 to 60 minutes. The examination is not painful and is globally not different from a normal ultrasound scan. It can be done transabdominally and sometimes transvaginally.  Differences between standard screening exams and detailed esams can be found in subtle details concerning quantity and quality of acquired tomographic planes, use of specific ultrasound tools (such ad 3D tecnhinque) and Doppler studies, detailed description of the findings including prognosis and treatment. Detailed ultrasound scans generally investigate the whole fetus, with a focus on the fregion of interest in which the defect is found. Specific detailed ultrasound scans assessing the cental nervous system (neurosonography), cardiovascular syustem (ecocardiography) can be carried out simultaneously or in different subsequent appointments. 

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