Fetal Cardiology Program

The Fetal Cardiology Program at Rady Children’s Heart Institute focuses on the detection, evaluation and management of prenatal cardiovascular diseases.

Your obstetrician or perinatologist may refer you to our program for one of the following reasons:

  • Concern about a congenital heart defect (an abnormality of the heart detected during a routine ultrasound examination)
  • Concern about the heart function in the fetus
  • Detection of an irregular heartbeat in the fetus
  • Presence of other congenital anomalies, which are associated with heart defects
  • Family history of congenital heart defects

During Your Visit

A fetal echocardiogram is usually performed during the second or third trimester. The test is similar to a regular obstetrical ultrasound but is focused to look at the heart of the baby before he or she is born. No special precautions or preparations are required prior to the test, and there are no risks associated with it. The test will take approximately one hour depending on the “cooperation” of your baby. The examinations are performed in the echocardiography laboratory at Rady Children’s Heart Institute and are immediately interpreted by one of our fetal cardiologists. One of the fetal cardiologists will meet with you during or immediately after the test to discuss the results of the fetal echocardiogram.

If a heart defect is identified, the fetal cardiologist will explain how your baby’s heart disease impacts the pregnancy and what to expect after your baby is born. The fetal cardiologist will work closely with your team of doctors (obstetrician, perinatologist, neonatologists, pediatric cardiologists, and pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons) to prepare you for delivery and ensure that your baby receives the highest quality cardiac care before and after birth.

If cardiac surgery is anticipated, you may meet with one of our cardiothoracic surgeons during your pregnancy.  After delivery, your baby will be cared for by our team of pediatric cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and neonatologists in the Acute Cardiac Unit at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

Meet Our Fetal Cardiologists:

Howaida El-Said, M.D., Ph.D.

Rachel McCandless, M.D.

Delaram Molkara, M.D.

Heather Sun, M.D.