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Revolutionary 3D images show baby’s heart inside the womb

Revolutionary 3D images show baby’s heart inside the womb

Revolutionary 3D images show baby’s heart inside the womb

A new 3D MRI scan is hoped to assist doctors in the care of babies born with congenital heart disease.

Two-dimensional (2D) ultrasound echocardiography is the primary technique used to diagnose congenital heart disease before birth. However, a team at King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’s have produced unprecedented images of a baby’s heart while it is still inside the womb when scanned in an MRI machine and powerful computers build 3D models.

Sophisticated computer software piece together 2D images, adjusts for the beating of the heart and then builds an unprecedented 3D image of the heart.

The researchers claim the process could help to improve the care of numerous babies born with congenital heart disease, and can be easily adopted by hospitals.

Baby Violet-Vienna’s story

One mum who took part in the study was Kirbi-Lea Pettitt, who was alerted to an issue with her baby’s heart when she went for her routine ultrasound scan at 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

Researchers were able to look at her baby’s heart in vivid detail and spot a dangerous narrowing of the aorta.

“It was very scary, I was just shell-shocked really,” Kirbi-Lea told the BBC.

But it allowed doctors to plan how to save baby Violet-Vienna’s life after she arrived in the world.

Medical teams performed heart surgery on her a week after birth, and Violet-Vienna is now a healthy 11-month-old baby.

Kirbi-Lea told the BBC: “She’s doted on by everyone and she’s just thriving – and it’s all down to these specialists and this technology. It’s amazing what they do, it’s lifesaving.”

The research was recently published in journal The Lancet.

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