infant and pregnant mom

Diagnostic Services

Each year in the United States, some 40,000 children are born with congenital heart defects; worldwide about 1.5 million children are affected. Technology now permits cardiologists and surgeons to accurately diagnose abnormalities before birth and perform intricate corrections on newborns so that many affected children can lead normal, energetic and productive lives.

Fetal echocardiography is an invaluable ultrasound tool for diagnosis of congenital heart disease in unborn infants and evaluation of fetal arrhythmias, thus allowing for the earliest identification of conditions that may require immediate intervention after birth. Echocardiography also is used to diagnose heart conditions in older children.

Overview of diagnostic and treatment services

  • Planning for labor and delivery.
  • State-of-the-art technology that can detect heart defects before the birth of your child.
  • Access to the full Pediatric Heart Center team and the most advanced fetal heart interventions if necessary.
  • A wealth of education about heart anomalies, treatment options and potential outcomes.
  • Complete care of your newborn child after birth. Our teams are specially trained to perform life-saving cardiac therapies immediately after the birth of the baby.

"It can be exceptionally difficult for families to be separated from their homes and from their other children for extended periods of time while caring for a child who is in the hospital. Having the choice to have their child hospitalized close to home will be a godsend to many of these families."
Dr. Gary Raff - Surgical Director, Pediatric Heart Center

Dr. Gary Raff,
co-director of the Pediatric Heart Center and director of its surgical unit, is a specialist in treatments for complex congenital heart disease and chest wall anomalies in infants, though he treats patients of all ages, from newborns to adults. He earned his medical degree at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and completed residencies in general surgery at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, and in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). He is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and American College of Surgeons.

Sherzana Sunderji, M.D., Director of Fetal EchocardiographySherzana Sunderji, MD

Director, Fetal Echocardiography

Assistant Professor


  • Yale University (B.S)
  • Dartmouth Medical School (M.D.)
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (Pediatrics Residency)
  • University of California, San Francisco (Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship)
  • University of California, San Francisco (Advanced Pediatric Cardiac Imaging)

Jay Yeh, M.D., Director of Pediatric EchocardiographyJay Yeh, MD

Director, Pediatric Echocardiography

Assistant Professor


  • UC San Diego (B.S)
  • University of Southern California-Keck School of Medicine (M.D.)
  • Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland (Pediatrics Residency)
  • Mott Children’s Hospital (Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship)
  • Mott Children’s Hospital (Advanced Pediatric Cardiac Imaging)

Jonathan "Yoni" Dayan, M.D., Director of Exercise PhysiologyJonathan "Yoni" Dayan, MD

Director, Exercise Physiology

Assistant Professor


  • UC Berkeley (B.A)
  • Sackler School of Medicine (M.D.)
  • Cohen Children’s Medical center of New York (Pediatrics Residency)
  • University of California, San Francisco (Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship)
A fetal echocardiogram is an ultrasound of your unborn child's heart. This test is used to look at the structure, function and rhythm of the heart. The ultrasound is performed by a specially trained fetal cardiac ultrasound sonographer and the images are immediately interpreted by a doctor with specialty training in pediatric cardiology and fetal congenital heart disease.

Certain women are at a higher risk of having a baby with congenital heart disease. Current recommendations for a fetal echocardiogram include:

  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) or assisted reproductive technology (as published, up to 2x the risk)
  • Concerns on a routine obstetrical ultrasound
  • Increased nuchal translucency
  • Family history of congenital heart disease (1st degree relative)
  • Abnormality of another organ system
  • Abnormal fetal heart rate or rhythm
  • Known or suspected fetal genetic condition
  • Monochorionic twin pregnancies
  • Abnormal maternal blood screening
  • Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • Maternal phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • Maternal autoimmune disease (lupus)
  • Maternal use of certain medications
  • Exposure to certain viral infections
  • Presence of hydrops

The best gestational age for a fetal ultrasound is between 18-22 weeks. However, fetal echocardiograms can be performed as early as 16 weeks and throughout your pregnancy.

There are some heart abnormalities that cannot be detected prenatally, including mild valve abnormalities and small holes between the chambers of the heart. There are also some heart defects that are not evident until after the baby is born.

After the ultrasound, the doctor (fetal cardiologist) will immediately give you the results. If the ultrasound is normal, typically no other testing is needed. If heart defects are seen on the ultrasound, additional testing may be recommended. This may include additional echocardiograms, genetic testing, and consultations with other doctors (fetal surgeon, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, perinatologist, neonatologist).

Please call the Fetal Care and Treatment Center at 916-794-BABY (2229) or email, or visit


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