Timing of scans

Timing of Fetal Heart Scans

Traditionally, detailed scans of the fetal heart have been performed at 18-21 weeks gestation. In most pregnancies, imaging of the heart at this stage on a single occasion is all that is required. In some groups, a further scan later in pregnancy may be advised.

Due to advances in scanning technology, it is now possible to assess the fetal heart much earlier in pregnancy. Scanning can be performed from around 13 weeks gestation onwards. In these circumstances, the early scan is to provide reassurance that the heart is normal or to diagnose severe cardiac abnormalities at an early stage. These early scans are typically followed-up later in pregnancy to recheck the findings as the baby grows.

Many parents who have had previously affected children have opted for early scans to provide reassurance of normality as early as possible. Cardiac defects can be diagnosed this early, but even if the scan is normal, a further assessment later in pregnancy is usually advised.