May 26, 2018, 8:04 am IST
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Caring for Congenital Heart Defects in the Womb

Caring for Congenital Heart Defects in the Womb

Prof. Balu Vaidyanathan, Feb 10, 2018

Birth defects of the heart are the most common type of birth defects ( 6-8/1000 births) found in newborn babies. Early detection and referral can transform the outcomes for these otherwise critical defects. Fetal echocardiography is a specialized test by which birth defects of the heart can be detected during the pregnancy stage itself. It is possible to evaluate fetal heart in detail by mid gestation ( 18-20 weeks). With the advances in ultrasound ( 3D/4D STIC technology), intricate details of the heart can be visualized and treatment can be planned while the baby is still in-utero. The strategy of prenatal diagnosis and planned delivery in cardiac facility is considered to be the new paradigm of care for these critical defects, vastly improving outcomes.

Amrita Hospital has a unique and dedicated Fetal Cardiology division with the most advanced imaging technology. A multidisciplinary team consisting of fetal cardiologist, fetal medicine, high-risk obstetrics, genetics, pediatric cardiac surgeon, intensivist and counselors cares for these babies in-utero and during the critical phase of birth transition. Since inception in 2008, this division has performed more than 10,000 fetal echocardiography studies. Around 1,200 fetuses with heart defects have been detected, 400 pregnant ladies with critical fetal heart defects have undergone delivery at our centre and about 150 newborn surgeries have been performed with a 98% success rate. We performed the first ever in-utero intervention for a structural heart defect ( Fetal balloon aortic valvuloplasty) in Kerala.

In-utero therapy for heart beat problems were successfully provided for around 20 fetuses. Fetal Heart, the annual academic event of this division, has emerged as a leading academic forum for Fetal cardiology in India.


The division is headed by Prof. Balu Vaidyanathan, senior pediatric and fetal cardiologist. The fetal cardiology division of AIMS can be contacted by email (; or by phone ( +91 7034028773).

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