An Amazing Way to Diagnose the Congenital Heart Anomalies Before Birth

Researchers have delivered exceptional images of a baby’s heart while it was still inside the belly. Pregnant ladies were scanned in an MRI machine and high tech computers assembled 3D models of the small beating hearts inside their unborn babies.

A group of researchers at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ says it will improve the consideration of babies with congenital heart anomalies. According to the researchers, their methodology can easily be implemented by specialists at hospitals.

Violet-Vienna’s heart

Violet-Vienna developed severe congenital anomalies in the blood vessels surrounding her heart while she was still inside her mom.

The issue was first identified when Kirbi-Lea Pettitt went for an ultrasound scan with 20 weeks of her pregnancy. She participated in the study to look at her baby’s heart in distinctive detail.

It showed a reduced lumen of the main blood vessel of the heart- aorta. It was likely to be blocked after birth. Her little girl also had two holes in her heart.

“It was very scary, I was just shell-shocked really,” said Kirbi-Lee. The doctors were now eager to save Violet-Vienna’s life after her birth. “I wasn’t allowed to hold her, they had to take her straight away to put her on medication to keep her aorta open,” said Kirbi-Lea.

Her baby had a heart surgery immediately seven days after her birth and now she is a healthy 11-month-old baby girl.

Kirbi-Lea said: “She’s doted on by everyone and she’s just thriving – and it’s all down to these specialists and this technology. It’s amazing what they do, it’s lifesaving.”

The Working of the Technology

As due to the fact, the fetus moves around inside the belly, its heart is tiny as well as beats quite rapidly the images of the heart obtained were blurred.

However, it is overcome by a smart bit. There is amazing computer software which pieces the images together, adjusts for the beating of the heart and after that builds an exceptional 3D picture of the heart. It gives doctors a reasonable perspective on the abnormality.

Congenital heart anomalies and diseases have been affecting 8 out of 1000 babies being born in the UK. One of the common causes is infections and some medications. It can keep on running in the families.

Prof Reza Razavi, a consultant pediatric cardiologist, was keen to improve the diagnosis of the birth defects after his little girl was found with one. “We thought we were going to lose her, that was a strong motivator… we should be able to pick up the problem in the womb.

According to him, the 3D images are “beautiful” and beneficial for identifying the issue and improving the care.

He said: “We can have complete certainty and plan ahead what treatment is needed, what’s the operation we need to do. It really helps the parents to have the right support to know what’s going to happen.”

“But it also really helps the babies because they get the right operation at the right time and have the best outcomes.”

Will Hospitals be using this Technology?

The study, published in the Lancet, shows the 3D imaging worked in 85 pregnant ladies, however, has now been tested on at least 200 patients.

Dr. David Lloyd, a clinical researcher at King’s College London, said: “Our hope is this approach will now become standard practice for the Evelina fetal cardiology team, who make a prenatal diagnosis in 400 babies each year.”

“This will also improve the care of over 150 babies each year who deliver at St Thomas’s Hospital with known congenital heart disease.”

He says the innovation would be easy to embrace if a hospital as of now has an MRI machine because the main new hardware required would be a computer with a nice graphics card.

This research is a part of the large iFind project whose aim is to increase the number of medical issues got amid standard pregnancy scans.

If the congenital heart anomalies are found after birth then the vital time can be lost in attempting to make a diagnosis. Another methodology is to use four ultrasound probes at the same time – current scans use one – to get a progressively more detailed picture.

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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