Structural abnormalities of the heart are a fairly common problem, affecting more than 8 of 1,000 newborns annually in the United States. Therefore, sonographic detection of these anomalies in utero is important. It is possible to detect a high percentage of fetal cardiac anomalies through proper sonographic examination using three central views of the heart: (1) the four-chamber view; (2) the aortic outflow tract view; and (3) the pulmonary output tract view. Although average sonologists may not be able to provide a precise diagnosis for a cardiac abnormality, they are able to recognize such abnormalities in a high percentage of cases by using these three views and by answering the following questions: (1) Is the heart in a normal position? (2) Is the heart size normal? (3) Are the ventricles equal in size? (4) Is there a septal defect? (5) Are the atrioventricular valves in a normal position? and (6) Is there any abnormality of the endocardium, myocardium, or pericardium? This article presents a practical approach to the detection of fetal cardiac anomalies using the four-chamber and outflow tract views. Examples of normal anatomy and cardiac pathology are provided as well as a listing of differential diagnoses that should be...Continue Reading
Birth defects encompass structural and functional alterations that occur during embryonic or fetal development and are present since birth. The cause may be genetic, environmental or unknown and can result in physical and/or mental impairment. Here is the latest research on birth defects.