Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) | Diagnosis

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How is hypoplastic left heart syndrome diagnosed?

Before birth

Most pregnant women have fetal ultrasounds during the course of their pregnancies. If a basic (level one) ultrasound shows the possibility of heart abnormalities, a more detailed cardiac ultrasound — fetal echocardiography — can correctly diagnose your baby’s heart defect. In addition, fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may provide additional information about the heart.

After birth

Some combination (not necessarily all) of the following medical tests will be used to diagnose HLHS and its related defects in a newborn:

  • echocardiography (ultrasound): The ultrasound on the newborn’s heart will reveal critical information about the extent of the HLHS abnormality, including the size and anatomy of the left ventricle, heart valves and other structures.
  • electrocardiogram (EKG): An EKG evaluates the electrical activity of your child’s heart.
  • cardiovascular MRI: A heart MRI is a non-invasive test using 3-D imaging technology produced by magnets to accurately determine the blood flow and functioning of your child's heart.
  • cardiac catheterization: provides detailed visual information and measurements about the structures inside the heart. Cardiac catheterization can be diagnostic-only, diagnostic and therapeutic, or diagnostic and interventional.

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