We live during an unprecedented time in the history of ob.gyn. practice. Only a relatively short time ago, the only way ob.gyns. could assess the health of the fetus was through the invasive and risky procedures of the amniocentesis and, later, chorionic villus sampling. A woman who might eventually have had a baby with a congenital abnormality would not have known of her fetus’s defect until after birth, when successful intervention might have been extremely difficult to achieve or even too late. At the time, in utero evaluation could be done only by static, low-resolution sonographic images of the fetus. By today’s standards of imaging technology, these once-revolutionary pictures are almost tantamount to cave paintings.
Therefore, while it is imperative that we employ all available technologies and techniques possible to detect and diagnose potential fetal developmental defects, we must also bear in mind that no test is ever infallible. It is our obligation to provide the very best information based on expert and thorough review.
This month we have invited Mary Donofrio, MD, director of the fetal heart program at Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, to discuss how the latest advances in imaging technology have enabled us to screen for and diagnose congenital heart diseases, and improve outcomes for mother and baby.
, who specializes in maternal-fetal medicine, is vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, as well as the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and dean of the school of medicine. Dr. Reece said he had no relevant financial disclosures. He is the medical editor of this column. Contact him at .