Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Prenatal screening for congenital heart disease.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 28 June 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:1717
  1. L D Allan,
  2. D C Crawford,
  3. S K Chita,
  4. M J Tynan


    Routine ultrasound examination of the fetus is already established in most obstetric units in Britain. A simple method was devised to evaluate one section of the fetal heart systematically. Examination of this section, the four chamber view, may readily be incorporated into routine obstetric screening. Severe cardiac abnormalities detectable in this view occur in two per 1000 pregnancies. For six years the department of paediatric cardiology at Guy's Hospital, London, served as a referral centre for fetal echocardiography. As teaching became more widespread an increasing proportion of cases of cardiac anomaly were referred because the obstetrician suspected abnormality on examination of the four chamber view. Currently 80% of detected abnormalities are referred for this reason. Further extension and organisation of teaching might result in most severe cardiac malformations being detected in early prenatal life.