Ultrasound Technician Identifies Rare Heart Defect in Fetus


The defect was seemingly caused by persistent use of Acamol and Optalgin but thanks to speedy reactions and treatment, the child's life was saved.


About a week ago, a woman in her 38th week arrived at Shaare Zedek Medical Center's Obstetrics ER. She came for am ultrasound after her Kupat Holim suspected that the fetus's head was a little too small.

The ultrasound technician who conducted the examination, Avital Tauber, also happens to be the Coordinator of our Multi-Disciplinary Clinic for Pre-Natal Diagnosis. The test dismissed suspicions of the development problem but the technician discerned a more serious problem, in the contractions of the fetus's heart.

Watch the interview of today's heroes Revital Tauber and Dr. Uri Chen in the Paula and Leon show

She immediately contacted Shaare Zedek's fetal heart experts who recommended an immediate ECG.

That test revealed a very rare problem – the closure of the ductus arteriosus – the arterial tube in the heart, which was seriously endangering the life of the fetus. The arterial tube   is a large fetal blood vessel that connects the lung artery to the main artery and enables the fetus's blood to bypass the lungs, which are not active during pregnancy. The vessel closes itself within a few hours or days of birth.

The closed artery, usually closed only after birth, is vital to the fetus's development. If it closes while the fetus is still in utero it puts it in serious danger of heart failure and an abnormal birth.

The mother woman was rushed to the delivery room to induce the birth and gave birth to a healthy baby.

After clarifying matters with the mother, it appears that two weeks beforehand she had been ill with the flu and after consulting a doctor she had taken Acamol and Optalgin over a few days had taken.

It is worth noting that there are very clear Medical Association guidelines regarding the use of these drugs during pregnancy, the permitted dosages and the need for medical monitoring while taking them, in keeping with the particular week of pregnancy, and women should act according to these regulations.

Dr. Ori Chen, Director of Shaare Zedek's Obstetrics and Gynecology Ultrasound Unit: "After Week 34, this blood vessel is very sensitive to drugs activity. Taking a large quantity of pills over a few days is liable to close this vessel and in certain cases lead to fetal heart failure, high pulmonary blood pressure and even to death. Apparently in this case, the mother took a large quantity of pills. Mothers should follow the medical recommendations and regulations and avoid taking too many of these pills without supervision."

The mother recalls: "A few weeks ago I caught the flu and after consulting my local doctor I took Acamol and Optalgin over a few days. After I got better, I went for a regular Ultrasound and the technician referred me to the hospital because she suspected the fetus' head was too small. I came to Shaare Zedek and very fortunately Avital checked me. She immediately told me there was no developmental problem at all but there was something wrong with the baby's heart. They left me in overnight and in the morning I underwent a number of tests and the doctors decided to induce an immediate birth. After the birth, we had a couple of days of anxiousness but thank God it was all okay. We are so grateful to the staff at Shaare Zedek for amazingly identifying the problem, and for the treatment, and we are overjoyed that we can celebrate the birth of a very happy and healthy little girl."

Avital Tauber: "Right at the start of the examination I saw there was something abnormal in the way the fetus's heart was contracting. I consulted our heart specialists who were immediately responsive and they decided to conduct more checks in order to diagnose the problem and treat, and I'm very pleased that thanks to the diagnosis and treatment, a healthy baby was born."

Prof. Amiram Nir, Director of Pediatric Cardiology: "The mother was referred to us for a fetal ECG in Week 38 of her pregnancy, due to a suspected heart problem. The examination revealed that the arterial tube, a blood vessel vital to the fetus, had closed. This artery serves the fetus until birth and closes after birth. When it closes before birth, the fetus is in a serious life-threatening situation. In the ECG, we saw a lot of pressure on the heart and we decided to induce the birth. After the birth, the baby needed help in breathing, but recovered fast and is in good condition. In the post-natal ECG, we observed the results of the early closure of the fetal artery, but the heart's functioning was good. Thanks to the technician's alertness and correct interpretation, we were able to diagnose an uncommon situation and to induce the birth while preventing irreparable damage to the fetus."