Fetal echocardiogram factsheet

Introduction

A fetal echocardiogram uses the same equipment and process as a routine pregnancy ultrasound. From 16-18 weeks, doctors can find the baby's heart rate and rhythm and establish the presence of heart abnormailties.  

 Before the procedure

No special preparation is required. You can eat and drink normally beforehand. 

Do not put any lotions, creams, or powders on your belly on the day of the fetal echocardiogram. 

 During the procedure

A fetal echocardiogram is performed like a regular pregnancy ultrasound.

Gel put on your belly helps sounds waves travel from the transducer (like a camera lens) to the baby's heart and back again. 

You may feel some pressure from the transducer on your belly, but a fetal echocardiogram is not painful.

The images will be processed on a video screen with sound or colour to assess blood flow circulation. 

Sometimes the position of the foetus makes it difficult to see all heart structures. We may ask you to move around the room or even come back a little later to improve the chances of seeing all the heart structures.

 After the procedure

Some abnormalities cannot be identified prior to birth. 

The echocardiographer will discuss this with you and repeat studies are frequently performed later in the pregnancy.

Your care team will deliver the best treatment option for your baby if abnormalities are detected after birth. 

Last updated Wednesday 10th July 2024

Disclaimer

This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024


This factsheet was produced with support from John Hunter Children's Hospital.