About the size of a grape, a baby’s heart at five months of gestation is very difficult to image using ultrasound.
Moreover, because it beats considerably faster than adult hearts, recognizing its size and shape with one’s eyes can be even more of a challenge. GE Healthcare is now addressing this issue with its fetalHQ software on the company’s women’s health Voluson ultrasound systems.
The tool provides functional assessment of the heart, in addition to measuring its size and shape as it beats up to 150 times a minute. It was the brainchild of Dr. Greggory DeVore, a fetal medicine expert in California, who modified an existing software package to apply it to the fetal heart. “This was the genesis of the creativity behind using this software,” DeVore said in a published statement. “From this, we made several measurements of the heart’s size, shape, and contractility – or how it’s squeezing. We immediately got to work and published 13 peer-reviewed articles that described the clinical value of this software.”
This is the first tool of this kind and it’s already been used to diagnose abnormal fetal hearts in clinical practice.