• congenital heart disease;
  • fetal;
  • screening



The aims of this study were to ascertain the effect of a regional training program in fetal echocardiography for obstetric radiographers on the antenatal detection of major congenital heart disease (CHD) and to document short-term outcomes for major CHD.


All 87 obstetric radiographers in Northern Ireland were invited to attend 2.5 days of training during a 1-year period. Data were collected before and after the training, over a 5-year study period, to assess the effect of training on the antenatal detection of CHD in the population.


The antenatal detection of major CHD rose significantly, from 28% (72/262) pretraining to 43% (36/84) in the year of training (P = 0.008). Antenatal diagnosis of four-chamber-view defects rose significantly (from 38% to 54%; P = 0.04), as did detection of outflow-tract-view defects (from 8% to 21%; P = 0.05). Twelve per cent (13/108) of cases died spontaneously in utero and 8% (9/108) were terminated. Only 78% (67/86) of live-born cases in which CHD had been diagnosed antenatally survived the neonatal period, compared to 93% (221/238) with a postnatal diagnosis of CHD (P < 0.001).


Even with a relatively simple training program, significant improvements can be made in the antenatal detection of CHD. With training, obstetric sonographers can successfully assess outflow tracts. Antenatally diagnosed cases have more complex CHD and this probably contributes to poor neonatal survival. Copyright © 2010 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.