Children's Hospital Colorado uses telehealth to diagnose fetal heart disease


Aurora-based Children's Hospital of Colorado researchers leveraged telehealth to correctly identify and manage fetal congenital heart disease in rural patients.

The hospital performed a study in conjunction with St. Mary's Maternal Fetal Medicine and OBGYN Clinic in Grand Junction, Colo., which is located about 250 miles from Children's Hospital Colorado. The study, which comprised 368 pregnant mothers as participants, analyzed the effects of a telecardiology program on the detection and risk stratification of fetal CHD in a rural, medically underserved area.

As part of the program, pediatric cardiologists at Children's Hospital Colorado used two-way audio and video technology to consult with medical experts from St. Mary's. As a result of the telehealth partnership, obstetric sonographers who participated in the study improved their identification of fetal CHD and 100 percent of pregnancies with fetal CHD were correctly risk stratified.

A recent study of 368 pregnant mothers, led by Bettina Cuneo, MD, director of perinatal cardiology and fetal cardiac telemedicine at Children's Hospital Colorado, found that fetal congenital heart disease  was correctly identified and successfully managed according to evidence-based risk stratification.

"While 90 percent of pregnant women in the United States receive at least one ultrasound during their pregnancy, fewer than 50 percent of infants with CHD requiring immediate postnatal intervention are diagnosed before birth," said Dr. Cuneo, according to the news release. "Since the lowest CHD detection rates are in rural and medically underserved areas, we are thrilled to show that telecardiology programs can effectively diagnose and manage CHD cases in those communities."

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