The Fetal Heart Program at Primary Children’s Hospital was developed to provide the best outcomes possible for fetuses with arrhythmias and congenital heart disease. It is a joint effort by the University of Utah and Intermountain Healthcare. We specialize in diagnosis and management of heart defects and rhythm abnormalities in unborn babies, from early second trimester to term. Early fetal detection allows for prenatal planning, education, and expedient management after delivery to ensure the best care for children with congenital heart disease.
What Sets Us Apart
Our group includes pediatric cardiologists and cardiac sonographers specifically trained in fetal echocardiography. We provide the most advanced imaging technology for fetal hearts in the Intermountain West and beyond. We work collaboratively with maternal fetal medicine physicians, neonatology, cardiovascular surgery and the Utah Fetal Center to provide comprehensive and family-centered care for expectant families. We have helped thousands of families through the challenge of receiving a diagnosis of a heart defect in their unborn child and preparing for the birth.
What is a Fetal Echo?
A fetal echocardiogram is a noninvasive ultrasound, similar to an obstetric ultrasound, but one that focuses only on the detailed structure, function and heart rhythm of your unborn baby's heart.
Why Might I Need a Fetal Echo?
There are a number of circumstances where you might be referred for a fetal echo. These may include but are not limited to:
- Maternal conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune disease or exposure to certain medications
- Diagnosis of another birth defect or syndrome in your fetus
- Twin or other multiple pregnancies
- An abnormal fetal heart rate
- Family history of congenital heart disease
- If the fetus's heart was not well seen or screening views appeared abnormal during a routine obstetric ultrasound.
What to Expect at Your Visit to the Fetal Heart Program
During your initial visit you will receive:
- A fetal echocardiogram which will take approximately one hour.
- Consultation with one of our fetal cardiologists. This consultation will allow the physician to explain the fetal echocardiogram results as well as allow time for questions you may have for the cardiologist.
- Coordination of resources and patient education provided by a Fetal Heart Nurse Coordinator.
- Consultations with other services as needed, such as maternal-fetal medicine, social services, genetics, and the Utah Fetal Center.
- If a heart problem is identified on the fetal echocardiogram during your visit, then our team will work with you and your OB/GYN to plan the best care for your baby.
- Tour of Primary Children's Hospital.
Planning for Your Visit
- Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time.
- It is preferable if you leave other siblings at home or at the daycare available onsite (for children > 3 years old).
- You generally do not have to come with a full bladder (if you are > 20 weeks gestation).
- Please complete this form prior to your visit to assist us in your care: Fetal Echocardiogram Questionnaire
What if I receive a diagnosis of a heart problem in my fetus?
First, know that you are not alone. We know that this is a time of stress and uncertainty. Our team is here to help and support you and provide exceptional care for you, your baby and your family. Our fetal heart program social worker is available to assist you through the entire care process, providing support in many areas, including:
- Coping and emotional support
- Sibling support
- Crisis intervention
- Behavioral and mental health resources
- Financial assistance
- Lodging and travel
Our Care Team