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Children's Health

HOW DO WE FIX A CHILD'S BROKEN HEART?

Take a better picture.

Children's heart surgerySpecialists at Evelina London Children's Hospital have recently piloted the use of a new technique that allows doctors to use a new imaging probe in small babies without needing to sedate them.

The device is called a micro-transoesophogeal echocardiography probe. It gives us the opportunity to examine the ultrasound scans, called foetal echocardiograms, at a far higher resolution, and it has all the latest features, including 3-D scanning. 

Better, more detailed images mean give us a much clearer idea of how to plan the child's treatment during their mother’s pregnancy, immediately after the baby is born and then into their childhood.

Professor John Simpson, Professor of Children's and Foetal Cardiology says, ‘The 3D echo is particularly good for problems which affect the heart valves. An MRI doesn't have the same resolution to follow fast-moving images.’ 

‘It also answers major questions about the valves, prior to repairing them, and it can also give us information about the details of the anatomy in complex cases, which you can't get with an MRI,’ he continues. ‘In a 3D echo you can see holes within the heart directly, rather than seeing the blood within the heart. If there's a hole, we can see it directly, rather than having to create a map of the fluid within the heart.’

Professor Simpson goes on to say: ‘It also has the advantage that it's portable, so we can do this in children who are not asleep. They can have it done in the clinic, as in-patients, and we can do this even in our sickest patients, which is different than the MRI which, for small children, involves an anaesthetic.’

Evelina London is a centre of excellence for the prenatal diagnosis and management of congenital heart defects. Around 2,000 pregnancies are assessed in the foetal cardiology unit each year. In most cases, doctors can reassure the parents that their unborn baby’s heart is normal. 

We were able to purchase this innovative piece of equipment thanks to a grant made by the Bonita Trust. To help us continue to treat thousands of sick babies and children with the most up-to-date and specialist technology,please donate today

 

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Further reading

How do we know which treatment will work?
How do we help more children with heart defects?
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