The fetal heart at 12 weeks is as big as a granule of rice: internally its structure is fully formed and with a specific methodology introduced by the author of this website, is possible to study the cardiac chambers, the flow within as well as the aorta and the polmonary (0.9 mm)

Cardiac anomalies and that of the major vessels represent the most common congenital malformation. Almost 8 out of 1000 pregnancies are affected by this disorder against for example 2 out of 1000 of fetuses that are affected by Down Syndrome.

  • Generally, almost half of these cases are asymptomatic, while the other half will be characterized by major anomalies, which can be either lethal, require a surgical intervention or require cardiac catheterization in the first year of the baby’s life.
  • Main congenital heart problems are generally responsible of almost 20% of all still births and 40% of neonatal death caused by congenital anomalies. They represent the primary cause of neonatal death.
  • There is a positive correlation between increased NT and incidents of congenital heart diseases both in fetuses with and without chromosomal abnormalities. An increased NT is not specific for certain heart defects.


In fetuses with normal chromosomes, the probability of having a major cardiac malformation increases with an increased NT.


From 3 over 1000 for those with NT within the normal range (blue band)

At  125 over 1000 for those with NT of 7MM (red band)


An ultrasound at 12 weeks can reassure most parents of the absence of major congenital heart defects.






An ultrasound at 12 weeks can reassure most parents of the absence of major congenital heart defects.

For fetuses with cardiac defects, an early ecocardiography can lead to the diagnosis or suspected diagnosis, which will then allow you to plan follow up examinations.

Given the size of the fetal heart, which is as small as a granule of rice and with a beat of up to 170 times a minute, fetal echocardiography is technically much more difficult at 12 weeks than at 20. However the structure, valves and vessels are fully formed.  Consequently it is possible to detect the major cardiac defects (80%) and in particular those that create a wrong disposition of the valve, chambers and vessels. The defects that are detected with the narrowing of vessels are however associated with the evolution of the heart, and therefore can only be diagnosed later in the pregnancy.

The author of this website has developed an innovative methodology, which enables to conduct cardiac study with abdominal ultrasound during this stage of pregnancy, at the same time as the when nuchal translucency.

 This methodology has been validated by three recent researches: at Kings College Hospital in London, a the University’ degli studi San Paolo e Monza in Milan. It has also been published in the most prestigious international magazine in Obstetrics, as an extensive series with great reliability (more than 1000 pregnant women and 130 cardiac defects).




Last Edit: 2013-08-05 20:18:55