Fetal counseling and treatment
Fetal echocardiography can nowadays diagnose congenital heart disease with great accuracy after the 14th week of pregnancy. This facilitates proper counseling for parents, as well as planning of the delivery in a center with the required expertise. Scientific studies have shown that prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease has a beneficial effect on the postnatal clinical condition of the newborn baby and overall outcome (Tzifa A, Barker C, Tibby SM, Simpson JM. Prenatal diagnosis of pulmonary atresia: impact on clinical presentation and early outcome. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2007;92(3):F199-203). Fetal cardiac arrhythmias can also be diagnosed during prenatal check-up and, when necessary, they can be treated with anti-arrhythmic drugs administered to the mother orally.
Finally, on selected cases it is possible to perform cardiac procedures directly on the fetus to avoid progressive deterioration of the cardiac anatomy or physiology. Dr Tzifa has been involved in fetal cardiac interventions at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, London (the first hospital in the world where such interventions were performed in 1990) as well as at the Children’s Hospital, Boston.