Fetal Cardiology Program

About our program

The Fetal Cardiology Program at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center provides complete consultation services for expectant mothers whose unborn children have suspected or known heart problems.

Led by Erik Michelfelder, MD, the Fetal Cardiology Program is dedicated to providing exemplary care to the fetus diagnosed with structural or functional heart disease and supporting the fetus and expectant family in a compassionate, comprehensive manner. Conditions treated include structural heart disease, fetal arrhythmias and fetal cardiac dysfunction.

Our team performs more than 1,600 fetal cardiac evaluations and more than 36,000 transthoracic echocardiograms annually, making ours one of the largest fetal cardiology programs in the country. With 12 offices across Georgia, we provide convenient access to families needing fetal cardiac care throughout the state. We have 19 fetal cardiologists on staff with an average of more than 14 years of experience in fetal cardiology. Our extensive experience in cardiac imaging allows each family to receive a comprehensive, expert fetal cardiac evaluation, including a detailed plan and recommendations for future care to both the referring physician and the family.

Fetal echo volumes

What to expect

Once diagnosed, fetal heart problems are managed through an interdisciplinary approach within the Fetal Cardiology Program. Parents consult with cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiac interventionists as indicated for specific heart conditions. We collaborate closely with local and regional obstetricians, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists and delivery centers to ensure that care planning and management of the fetus with heart disease is provided at the highest level. We also offer prenatal genetic counseling, social work support and interaction with specialized cardiac nurses.

Our team provides:

  • Family-centered care
  • Resources for counseling and educating families
  • Detailed information to help families understand the diagnosis
  • Assistance in birth planning and postnatal management of the newborn

When does a mother need to be seen?

You may be referred to a fetal cardiologist for a fetal echocardiogram if:

  • An ultrasound or anatomy scan shows a possible heart defect or problem in the baby
  • The mother, father or siblings of the baby have a history of heart problems
  • An abnormal or irregular heartbeat is heard in the baby
  • A genetic or chromosomal abnormality is identified in the baby
  • Abnormalities in the baby's other major organ systems, such as the brain, kidneys or lungs, are identified by ultrasound
  • The mother has a medical condition, such as diabetes, phenylketonuria (PKU), or a connective tissue disease, such as lupus or Sjogren's syndrome, that can affect the baby's heart
  • The mother has been exposed to viruses, certain medicines or drugs that can affect the development of the baby's heart

What is a fetal echocardiogram?

A fetal echocardiogram (echo) is an ultrasound just like the one you get at your obstetrician's office. A fetal echo uses sound waves to show your baby's heart in detail. The heart's structure is best seen between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy. A fetal echo takes approximately 40 to 60 minutes to complete, depending on the complexity of your baby's heart problem. 

What does a fetal echo do?

A fetal echo procedure will:

  • Check your baby's heart structure, rhythm and function.
  • Help make sure that the heart problem does not get worse.
  • Check to make sure your baby is growing and developing well.

If a fetal echo does show a serious heart defect, your baby may need further testing.

What if my baby has a heart defect?

If testing shows that your baby has a heart defect, we will work with the maternal-fetal medicine specialist, a high-risk obstetrician, to develop a follow-up schedule to monitor your baby. We will help you understand your baby's condition and needs so that you can make informed decisions for your family and baby.

If your baby's heart condition requires surgery after delivery, we can help prepare you ahead of time by connecting you with a surgeon and providing helpful resources.

Learning that your baby has a heart defect can be scary and difficult to comprehend. We have collaborated with other institutions and the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association to create a guided questions tool so that you know the right questions to ask your physician about your baby.

Learn more about the guided questions tool (en Español)

To learn more about our fetal cardiology program, contact Kendall Massey at 404-785-8745.

Locations

Egleston hospital

1405 Clifton Road NE

Atlanta, GA 30322

Children's Medical Office Building at Scottish Rite hospital

5461 Meridian Mark Road NE

Atlanta, GA 30342-1654

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Albany

2709 Meredyth Drive, Suite 250

Albany, GA 31707

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Alpharetta

3300 Old Milton Parkway, Suite 100

Alpharetta, GA 30005-3758

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Athens

1000 Hawthorne Avenue, Suite S

Athens, GA 30606

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Columbus

705 17th St, Suite 406

Columbus, GA 31901-3513

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Gainesville

200 S. Enota Dr. NE, Suite 400

Gainesville, GA 30501-3474

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Lawrenceville

738 Old Norcross Road, Suite 110

Lawrenceville, GA 30046

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Macon

1062 Forsyth St, Suite 3A

Macon, GA 31201-7512

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Marietta

355 Tower Road, Suite 204

Marietta, GA 30060-9413

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Newnan

60 Oak Hill Blvd, Suite 102

Newnan, GA 30265-2314

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology - Stockbridge

202 Village Center Parkway

Stockbridge, GA 30281-9044

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