The Hartekind Foundation has awarded € 500.000,- to introduce this technique widely in The Netherlands and to use it for research into congenital heart defects. With an MRI, a detailed image can be made of the heart of an unborn child. The Wilhelmina Children's Hospital is the first to apply this new technique in The Netherlands. Thanks to this MRI we can now make a 3D model of the child's heart before birth, so that doctors and parents know even better which treatment is needed immediately after birth. In addition to the imaging of the heart, the fetal MRI provides much more insight into the development of brain damage and its further development in children with congenital heart disease.
About 1 in 100 newborn babies has a congenital heart defect. The impact of this on their lives is huge. At UMC Utrecht and Wilhelmina Children's Hospital we are investigating how we can limit the impact. All pregnant women in The Netherlands receive a 20-week ultrasound. If a heart defect is suspected at that 20-week ultrasound, they will be referred to the fetal cardiology clinic. In the vast majority of cases we are able to diagnose the heart defect. In exceptional cases, the heart defect is so complex or the circumstances are very unfavorable, so that we cannot make a good diagnosis. In those cases, an MRI scan can have additional value, with which a detailed 3D model can be made of the heart of an unborn child. This model can provide more clarity about the heart defect and offers the possibility of drawing up a more detailed treatment plan before birth. Heynric Grotenhuis, pediatric cardiologist at the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital and project leader of the study: “We are extremely happy with this grant from the Hartekind Foundation. Current technology has been developed by the pediatric cardiology, radiology and fetal medicine departments of the WKZ Birth Center, Gynecology at UMC Utrecht together with our partner hospital, King's College London in the United Kingdom.