Clinician and academic from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences, Dr David Lloyd has been awarded a £1.3million Intermediate Clinical Research Fellowship from the British Heart Foundation, using prenatal 3D ultrasound MRI to improve understanding of fetal heart development.
Dr Lloyd, Clinical Lecturer in Child Health at the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences, and consultant paediatric and fetal cardiologist at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, says the research will help diagnose some forms of congenital heart disease (CHD) more accurately, as well as help to understand more about the links between prenatal and postnatal cardiovascular health.
Some forms of CHD, particularly those affecting the left side of the heart, can be difficult to diagnose accurately before birth, even with the best available imaging. These conditions have been linked to problems in the baby's placenta, for reasons that aren't clear, as well as a risk of other heart-related problems - such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes - in later life. This exciting project, supported by the British Heart Foundation, will use advanced 3D and 4D ultrasound and MRI in pregnancy to understanding these relationships in much more detail, starting while babies are still in the womb.– Dr Lloyd, Clinical Lecturer in Child Health at the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences
The main form of CHD being examined – coarctation of the aorta – can be life-threatening if undetected, but is notoriously difficult to predict accurately from 2D ultrasound scans alone.
Over the course of the five-year project, he plans to recruit nearly 300 women for advanced 3D fetal MRI scans of the baby’s placenta, heart and brain. Their babies will then be followed-up to a year after birth - and potentially beyond into later childhood – to understand how the prenatal environment shapes future cardiovascular health.
“Ultimately we want to make sure that babies and children are getting the right type of care when they need it - not just immediately after they are born, but throughout the rest of their lives too.”