Fetal Cardiology

At the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute, we offer the only comprehensive fetal cardiology services in Orange County. In order to catch problems as early as possible, our fetal cardiologists work with pregnant women to evaluate, diagnose and manage babies in utero who may be at risk for congenital heart defects, heart failure or rhythm disturbances.

Women who are pregnant with a child that is at risk for a congenital heart disease are referred to CHOC by their obstetrician, perinatologist or other health care provider for a fetal echocardiogram. Learn more about fetal echocardiograms.

We also see women who choose CHOC for an additional consultation or second opinion. Learn what to expect at your appointment.


The CHOC Difference

  • CHOC offers the only comprehensive fetal cardiology services in Orange County.
  • Our fetal cardiology team has advanced training in fetal cardiology, fetal echocardiograms and advanced cardiovascular imaging.
  • CHOC’s cardiology team includes board-certified pediatric advanced imaging cardiac specialists, and access to pediatric cardiac interventionalists, cardiac electrophysiologists and heart failure specialists.
  • Our cardiologists perform fetal echocardiograms in their offices to help detect heart abnormalities before birth.
  • At the time of the echocardiogram, your CHOC doctor will discuss the findings, the best course of treatment and provide referrals to specialists.
  • If your newborn needs heart surgery, CHOC is the only facility in Orange County that performs open-heart surgery on newborns and children.
  • Our cardiologists provide management of congenital heart problems throughout a child’s life and into adulthood through the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute.
  • After your child is born, and depending upon a child’s age and the suspected defect, further diagnoses can be made using cardiac MRI, low-dose CT scan, cardiac catheterization and Holter monitoring.
  • CHOC offers one of the only pediatric electrophysiology programs in the region, and is one of the only institutions in the country to offer radiation-free electrophysiological studies.
  • We offer state-of-the-art 3D heart mapping technology in our procedure center.
  • CHOC has an Interventional Cardiology Program that specializes in performing minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedures in our state-of-the-art catherization laboratories.

Who Should Have a Fetal Echocardiogram

Pregnancies may be at risk for congenital heart disease for a variety of reasons. You may be referred to a CHOC fetal cardiologist for a number of reasons, including:

Fetal risk factors include:

  • An abnormal appearing heart
  • Abnormal heart rate or arrhythmia on routine screening ultrasound
  • Aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormality)
  • Increased nuchal translucency thickness at first trimester evaluation
  • Noncardiac fetal structural abnormalities
  • A two-vessel umbilical cord
  • Twins
  • Fluid accumulation in the fetus.

Maternal risk factors include:

  • Maternal diabetes, lupus or other systemic disease that involves the heart
  • First-trimester use of known teratogens
  • Assisted reproduction technology
  • Maternal congenital heart disease.

Familial risk factors include:

  • A history of a previous child being born with a heart defect
  • The father being born with a heart defect
  • Other close relatives being born with heart defects or syndromes known to involve the heart.

What To Expect At Your Appointment

CHOC board-certified cardiologists perform fetal echocardiograms in their offices to help detect heart abnormalities before birth. At the time of your appointment, your fetal cardiologist will deliver a comprehensive diagnosis and care plan for you and your family.

Treating heart conditions can be complex and often requires a team of caregivers. At CHOC, our cardiologists understand the specialized expertise and multidiscplinary approach needed to care for congenital heart disorders and arrhythmias.

Depending on your child’s condition, you will be referred to other experts at the CHOC Heart Institute, such as cardiac interventionalists, cardiac electrophysiologists, cardiac surgeons and heart failure specialists as needed. Early intervention improves the chance of survival after delivery for babies with severe defects. Make an appointment.

Innovative Cardiodiagnostics

3D-cardiac-MRIThe CHOC Children’s Heart Institute is dedicated to providing the least invasive, most advanced cardiodiagnostic services available for heart-related problems in children. We offer traditional and highly specialized echocardiograms and electrocardiograms, Holter monitoring and cardiac event recording and advanced 3D imaging. In our state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab, we offer minimally invasive diagnostic catheterization techniques and electrophysiology studies. Learn more about the cardiodiagnostics available at CHOC Children’s.

Video: Benefits of Early Detection of Congenital Heart Defects

Learning a child may have congenital heart defect (also referred to as congenital heart disease) is scary, and figuring out where that child will receive treatment for his or her condition can be one of the biggest decisions a parent can make. The experts at the CHOC Children’s Heart Institute understand these anxieties and work with pediatric patients and their families to diagnose, treat and manage congenital heart disease.

Make an Appointment

If you have been referred to CHOC Children’s for a fetal echocardiogram, or would like to schedule for an additional consultation or opinion, you can find a fetal cardiologist here in our directory. A referral from your obstetrician, perinatologist or other health care provider may be required.

You may also call 714-509-3939 to schedule an appointment with a CHOC specialist.

Long Live Childhood

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