• congenital heart disease;
  • evolution;
  • fetal heart



To compare the echocardiographic findings in fetuses at < 15 weeks' gestation with a later follow-up scan, and determine both the accuracy of early diagnosis and the frequency of findings that change between scans.


For the period 2002 to the end of 2009, we searched our database for all patients who had had a detailed fetal echocardiogram at less than 15 completed weeks' gestation and a repeat scan at least 6 weeks later.


Of 1200 patients fulfilling our selection criteria, the cardiac findings were normal at both scans in 1069. In 46 cases the same cardiac abnormality was seen at both scans. There was a false-positive diagnosis at early scan in seven cases. In 50 cases, there were mildly abnormal functional findings early in pregnancy with no abnormality found later. In 29 fetuses, there was discordance between the early and later morphological diagnosis, 15/29 being considered significant differences, with 10/15 representing true progression of findings between the early and later scans, rather than missed or incorrect diagnoses.


A high degree of accuracy in the identification of congenital heart disease can be achieved by early fetal echocardiography (sensitivity 84.8 (95% CI, 75.0–91.9)%, specificity 95.3 (95% CI, 93.9–96.4)%), although the identification of every case of tetralogy of Fallot and small atrioventricular septal defects presents particular diagnostic challenges at this gestational age. A small but significant group showed progression of findings during this stage of rapid fetal heart growth, particularly in obstructive lesions. Copyright © 2013 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.