Implementation of a statewide, multisite fetal tele-echocardiography program: evaluation of more than 1100 fetuses over 9 years

J Perinatol. 2020 Oct;40(10):1524-1530. doi: 10.1038/s41372-020-0677-2. Epub 2020 May 7.


Objectives: We sought to describe the implementation and effectiveness of a statewide fetal tele-echocardiography program serving a resource-limited population.

Study design: In 2009, our heart center established six satellite clinics for fetal tele-echocardiography around the state. We retrospectively reviewed all fetal tele-echocardiograms performed through 2018. Yearly statewide prenatal detection rates of operable congenital heart disease were queried from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons database.

Result: In 1164 fetuses, fetal tele-echocardiography identified all types of congenital heart disease, with a sensitivity of 74% and specificity of 97%. For the detection of ductal-dependent congenital heart disease, fetal tele-echocardiography was 100% sensitive and specific. Between 2009 and 2018, annual statewide prenatal detection rates of congenital heart disease requiring heart surgery in the first 6 months of life rose by 159% (17-44%; R2 = 0.88, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: The present study provides a framework for an effective, large-scale fetal tele-echocardiography program.

MeSH terms

  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal*