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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2014 October;66(5):453-71

language: English

Imaging in fetal cardiology

Herberg U. 1, Breuer J. 1, Gembruch U. 2, Willruth A. 2

1 Department of Pediatric Cardiology, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany;
2 Department of Obstetrics and Prenatal Medicine, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany


Early detection and accurate diagnosis of fetal cardiac disease is a central approach in perinatal medicine. The purpose of this review is to evaluate current imaging modalities for the assessment of the fetal heart and its function. Conventional fetal 2D- and color-Doppler echocardiography as a screening tool as well as a diagnostic modality has been proven to be safe, easy and cost-effective for the diagnosis of structural heart disease. Cardiac function can be assessed by M-mode and intra- and extra-cardiac Doppler-echocardiography on a routine basis, but remains challenging in subclinical pathology. Tissue-Doppler, speckle tracking, dynamic three-dimensional (4D) echocardiography, and fetal cardiac magnetic resonance imaging are advanced modalities for the assessment of cardiac structure and function. Implementation of these new technologies is far from routine, but these approaches have already shown promising results and may allow a more detailed evaluation of cardiac function. In this review, we provide a brief overview of currently available techniques, and their benefits and limitations in the clinical assessment of the fetal heart.

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