If your baby has been diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, regular evaluation and monitoring will allow us to properly care for both you and your baby. It also helps your family and the Fetal Heart Program team at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon St. Louis Fetal Care Institute prepare for your baby’s delivery and any treatments that may be needed after birth.
Common Fetal Heart Tests
We continue to discover and implement new methods for monitoring fetal heart conditions and physiology. This helps our team and your family better prepare for the delivery of your special baby. If your baby has been diagnosed with a fetal heart condition, some common tests you may regularly have include fetal echocardiogram, genetic testing, and a level II ultrasound.
As early as 18 weeks gestation, Cardinal Glennon St. Louis Fetal Care Institute specialists can accurately detect heart conditions through a fetal echocardiogram (Fetal ECHO). This detailed ultrasound focuses on the intrauterine growth and development of your baby’s heart and great vessels. To conduct the test a trained sonographer will apply gel to your abdomen, and then gently place the ultrasound probe on the abdomen.
Photos of your fetus’ heart are taken as the probe is moved around the abdomen. Our fetal cardiologists will review these images to confirm a diagnosis and evaluate the wellbeing of your baby. This pain-free test does not cause any harm to your baby.
Genetic testing is a rapidly developing technology in fetal diagnosis and therapy. Using microarray technology our team can look for tiny pieces of missing genetic material in babies diagnosed with a fetal heart anomaly. In order to do this, we usually sample some of the amniotic fluid and examine the genetic material in the fetal cells from the fluid. This is an optional test, but it can be reassuring for some mothers to know that a birth defect is not part of a known genetic syndrome.
We also offer Noninvasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) to detect chromosome abnormalities such as Down syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18) and Patau syndrome (trisomy 13), with an up to 99% accuracy rate.
Whatever the findings may be, the Cardinal Glennon St. Louis Fetal Care Institute offers genetic counseling with our dedicated genetic counselor. They’ll help you understand how the fetal diagnoses could be related to a specific genetic problem, and where to go from there.
Level II Ultrasound
This detailed 3D and 4D, high-resolution ultrasound allows for a targeted examination of your fetus. Level II ultrasounds are used during the anatomy screening to look at the organs, including the umbilical cord, growth of the fetus, amniotic fluid levels, the location of the placenta and the fetal heart rate.
A level II ultrasound can take up to two hours when screening for fetal abnormalities. We can use the ultrasound to examine your baby’s lung growth, urine production and track your baby’s progress.
To conduct the test a trained sonographer will apply gel to the your abdomen, and then gently place the ultrasound probe on the abdomen. Photos of your fetus are taken as the probe is moved around the abdomen. Our Fetal Heart Team will review these images to confirm a diagnosis and evaluate the wellbeing of your fetus. This pain-free test does not cause any harm to your baby.
The Fetal Heart Program is Here for You
It can be scary to know your baby may have a congenital heart defect, but rest assured that our team will be by your side throughout this process. Once your baby is born, our exceptional care team is equipped to continue handling care for even the most complex cases.
We know you may have a lot of questions, and that’s okay! We’re available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us at 314-268-4037 or toll free at 877-SSM-FETL (877-776-3385), or email us and one of our trusted representatives will get back to you as soon as possible.