Cook Children's International Program

Fetal Echocardiography

One in every 100 babies is born with congenital heart disease, making it the number one disorder in newborns. Cook Children's fetal echocardiography (fetal ECHO) program specializes in the diagnosis and treatment planning of congenital heart conditions during pregnancy through ultrasound technology.

This amazing technology allows doctors to see a baby's heart while it's still in the womb. And once your baby is born, our Heart team is here to care for your child from birth to adulthood.

The fetal echo team works with a fetal nurse coordinator to arrange the fetal echocardiogram, diagnosis and counseling during your initial visit. Birth plans are formulated and combine ongoing care with the perinatology, neonatology and cardiovascular surgery. Our team approach is designed to involve parents every step of the way, helping you understand the diagnosis, ask questions and make informed decisions.

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What is a fetal ECHO?

A fetal ECHO is a safe, noninvasive test. Long before your baby is born, the doctor can see how the heart is developing and if there are serious issues, work with you to create a treatment plan that is best for both you and your baby. If critical medical care is required, a fetal ECHO can help you plan ahead so that your baby can be transported from the delivery room to the Cook Children's NICU immediately.

After a diagnosis, the cardiology team at the Cook Children's Heart Center will work closely with you, your obstetrician and your pediatrician to plan your delivery and your baby's care.

What happens during a fetal echo?

During your evaluation you will receive an ultrasound by the technician and a consultation with the pediatric cardiologist.

A fetal echocardiogram is similar to the ultrasound performed by your obstetrician. The difference is, this is a targeted examination of the baby's heart providing a more detailed image of the cardiac anatomy and a higher level of evaluation. The study normally takes about 2 hours to complete.

If your fetal echo reveals a heart defect in your unborn child, you will receive additional services, including:

If your baby's condition will require surgery, a follow-up consultation is arranged for the parents to discuss the upcoming surgery with the cardiothoracic surgery team. This team approach allows families to meet the surgeon who will care for their infant and ask additional questions.

Leading the way in earlier diagnosis

Echocardiography is led by Lisa Roten, M.D., medical director of the Echocardiography program and Kris Woldu, M.D., fetal cardiologist.

The program's staff is proud of achieving accreditation in fetal echocardiography from the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories. This accomplishment demonstrates how Cook Children's works hard to provide expert care to our community and we are committed to providing easy access for all patients and their families.

Are congenital defects hereditary?

Congenital heart defects can be hereditary. If the expectant mother or father has a confirmed or suspected congenital heart defect, we are able to refer them to our Adult Congenital Heart Disease program to be treated as well.

Cook Children's Fetal Echocardiography team

Lisa M. Roten, MD
Medical Director, Echocardiography and Fetal Echocardiography

Education: Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
Residency: Greenville Memorial Hospital, Greenville, SC
Fellowship: Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston
Board Certification: General Pediatrics, Pediatric Cardiology
Languages: English

Kristal L. Woldu, MD

Education: Columbia University - College of Physicians and Surgeons
Residency: Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center
Fellowship: Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center; Advanced Cardiac Imaging
Fellowship at UT Southwestern Medical Center/Children's Health Dallas
Board Certification: Pediatrics, Pediatric Cardiology
Languages: English

Referral forms

Need help referring a patient?
Please call the International Patient Services department at +1-682-885-4685, send faxes to +1-682-885-2557, or email