Heart abnormalities diagnosed in babies earlier thanks to new high resolution scanners

Heart abnormalities can now be diagnosed in babies at an earlier stage of pregnancy thanks to new high resolution scanners used at Evelina London.

The three SMI (Superb Microvascular Imaging) Toshiba i800 ultrasound systems based in Evelina London’s new fetal cardiology unit can provide higher quality and more detailed images than ever before.

This means that heart defects can be detected as early as 12 weeks into a pregnancy, instead of when they are usually diagnosed at the 20-week scan.

The £85,000 scanners give experts a clear view of an unborn baby’s heart and blood vessels and detect the movement of blood within the heart.

The fetal cardiology teams at Evelina London and King’s College Hospital work in partnership and are now using the technology across both sites to carry out around 1,000 scans a year.

Women offered this type of scan include those who have had a baby with major heart problems before.

Rachel Slaughter, 38 from Maidstone in Kent, was scanned with the new equipment at the fetal cardiology unit when she was 15 weeks pregnant.

She was diagnosed with rare congenital heart defect Ebstein’s anomaly and a hole in the heart when she was 30 weeks pregnant with her first child, Erin, who is now three.