Foetal Echocardiography

The first detailed descriptions of the appearance of the normal human foetal heart as seen by cross-sectional ultrasound were published in 1980 (Lange etal., 1980; Kleinman et al., 1980; Allan et al., 1980). Since then, a complete spectrum of congenital heart disease (CHD) has been recognized in prenatal life (Allan et al., 1984,1994). With experience and modern equipment, anomalies can now be reliably detected from as early as 12 weeks gestation, up to term (Huggon et al., 2002). The most easily obtained view of the foetal heart is the four-chamber view, and identifying the normality of this one section rules out many major defects. Nowadays, it is increasingly standard practice during the routine obstetric ultrasound examination to analyse not only the four-chamber view but also views of the great arteries. As the majority of pregnancies in the UK are now offered a routine anomaly scan, there is therefore the opportunity of screening all pregnancies for major forms of CHD (Fermont et al., 1986; Allan et al., 1986).

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