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Results of early foetal echocardiography and cumulative detection rate of congenital heart disease

  • David R. Hartge (a1), Jan Weichert (a1), Martin Krapp (a2), Ute Germer (a3), Ulrich Gembruch (a4) and Roland Axt-Fliedner (a5)...



The aim of this study is to evaluate the cumulative detection rate of foetal echocardiography during gestation and in the early neonatal period, with a special emphasis on early foetal echocardiography.


We conducted a retrospective survey of all singleton pregnancies from 1993 to 2007, with complete sequential echocardiography from 11 plus 0 to 13 plus 6 weeks of gestation. It was mandatory to have at least one foetal echocardiography in the second or third trimester and one postnatally.


Our study included 3521 pregnancies, in which 77 cases were diagnosed with congenital heart disease. Of them, 66 were detected in the first trimester – 11 plus 0 to 11 plus 6 weeks: 22 cases; 12 plus 0 to 12 plus 6 weeks: 23 cases; 13 plus 0 to 13 plus 6 weeks: 21 cases – with an 85.7% detection rate of congenital heart disease in early foetal echocardiography. In the second trimester, seven cases were found, with a detection rate of 9.1%. The third trimester reported two cases, with a detection rate of 2.6%. Postnatally, two (2.6%) cases were detected. The overall in utero detection rate of congenital heart disease was 97.4%.


Foetal echocardiography performed at the time of anomaly screening in the first trimester results in high detection rates of congenital heart disease. Cardiac pathology may evolve, and further examinations at later stages of pregnancy could improve the detection rate of congenital heart disease.


Corresponding author

Correspondence to: D. R. Hartge, Department of Prenatal Medicine, University Hospital of Schleswig-Holstein, Luebeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, 23538 Luebeck, Germany. Tel: +49 451 500 2138; Fax: +49 451 500 2192; E-mail:


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