The course is designed to improve your skills and achieve excellence in the fetal diagnosis and management of congenital heart defects (CHD) and in the morphological and functional evaluation of the fetal heart in general. Through a comprehensive approach spanning from pathophysiology to detailed imaging, the acquisition of knowledge is achieved through intensive exposure to a large number of real cases representing all possible conditions and situations found in a fetal cardiology unit. Thus, the program offers a chance to learn from experts how to best perform advanced fetal echocardiography, while increasing progressively the understanding on all relevant CHD and their most common variations. An important section is dedicated to the advanced assessment and management of fetal cardiac arrhythmias. Finally, you will get familiar with the possibilities of fetal therapy for CDH and will acquire full advanced training in the evaluation of fetal cardiac function and the evaluation of cardiac adaptations in non-cardiac fetal anomalies.
With a strong focus in clinical decision-making, a masterclasses and a face-to-face period in Barcelona are designed to complement the specific skills in the performance of high-quality echocardiography and the evaluation of prognosis, with transversal skills in multidisciplinary interaction and parental counselling issues. Thus, the interactive program provides ample opportunities to take part in open discussions via a forum, sharing your own cases with experts in the field, and attending virtual masterclasses. Two onsite weeks in Barcelona will enable close interactions with the experts and practical sessions on new technologies. This unique academic program, endorsed by the University of Barcelona, addresses the rapidly growing demands for sub-specialists with an in-depth knowledge in Fetal Cardiology.
Advanced fetal cardiology training for Fetal Medicine specialists and ultrasound professionals with minimum two years of experience in fetal echocardiography who want to improve their understanding and clinical skills on Fetal Cardiology.
Main academic goal
• To enable participants to perform expert diagnosis and counseling of prenatal heart anomalies by in-depth knowledge of fetal cardiac physiology
• To achieve optimal prenatal acquisition of images for the evaluation of fetal cardiac physiology
• To efficiently incorporate to fetal echocardiographic evaluation all related techniques, including 2D, M-mode, color and spectral Doppler, 4-STIC, tissue Doppler, strain, and magnetic resonance
• To enable participants to expert diagnosis and counseling of congenital prenatal heart anomalies
• To enable participants to properly assess fetal cardiac function in a clinical context
• To enable participants to expert diagnosis, treatment, and counseling of fetal arrhythmias
• To recognize the indications, limitations, and benefits of in utero cardiac therapy in a clinical context
• To make predictions on how the fetal heart adapts to an insult, and the consequent fetal cardiac remodeling, dysfunction, and failure
• To emphatically cope with the emotional needs of parents facing during pregnancy the diagnose of a heart anomaly
The Postgraduate Degree in Fetal Cardiology comprises 10 theoretical-practical modules including the basics on prenatal cardiac imaging, advanced knowledge on CHD and arrhythmias, and understanding on fetal cardiac function and therapy. It offers advanced training through an online interactive platform combining theoretical and practical sessions based on clinical cases together with interactive masterclasses with recognized experts of Fetal Cardiology. Additionally, online practical training, a 2-weeks onsite stay and a research project will help to consolidate the expertise acquired online.
Online theoretical modules and evaluation tests
The online module includes theoretical lectures based on clinical cases, an interactive forum and a live masterclass with an expert who guaranties close interaction with teachers and resolution of doubts. Each module will be complemented with the preparation of a practical clinical case –including diagnosis, prognosis and parental counselling- and revision of the particular literature on the topic. Each module will be evaluated by an online test and by the evaluation of selected images by participants.
Practical module: Advanced fetal echocardiography
The practical part of the postgraduate course is designed for the students to acquire the necessary skills to perform an advanced echocardiography, including a complete morphometric and functional evaluation of the fetal heart.
In order to achieve a high standard on acquisition of fetal cardiac ultrasound, more than 70 images and echocardiographic measurements have been carefully selected by the faculty. Participants will receive a practical manual to guide the acquisition of the images and mark the measurements. In addition, during the first on-site week at our center, the students will have the opportunity to participate in two “hands-on real patients” workshops with close supervision by the postgraduate directors enabling to learn tips and tricks for an optimal acquisition.
To complete this practical part, the students will need to send the required images and measurements from three different real fetuses. These images will be evaluated and scored by the Academic Committee and the students will receive personalized feedback that will allow them to improve their skills. This high demanding practical module will allow participants to acquire sufficient skill to be able to perform an advanced echocardiography in their daily clinical practice.
Resolution of clinical cases
This part of the course is designed for the student to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired in the different modules. For this, in each module the student will need to solve clinical cases in different scenarios including conducting a differential diagnosis, establishing a study protocol and a follow-up plan for each case, taking into consideration the prognostic evaluation. The high degree of expertise of the faculty team will guide participants through cases of different complexity. This novel and dynamic part of the course will allow acquiring the tools to carry out an exhaustive and systematic evaluation of most congenital heart defects from a practical management point of view.
The postgraduate includes an online forum using a Moodle platform to enable interaction among attendees and the faculty. The forum will be supervised by the scientific manager of the course who will ensure that the discussions are dynamic, and with ad hoc participations of the directors of each module to clarify unresolved matters. It will be available to students at the beginning of each module creating a space to share doubts and discuss about the specific topic.
Preparation of individual clinical cases
At the end-of the postgraduate course participants will be requested to submit 5 cases of congenital heart defects that they have diagnosed and managed in their respective workplaces. The cases must be well documented ichnographically. The diagnosis must be justified by showing the specific key-points of the cardiac defect. In addition, the complementary tests carried out and the summary of the antenatal advice recommended to the pregnant woman must be also explained.
Onsite stays (two of one-week each)
The face-to-face period consists of two weeks in Barcelona. A visit to the Fetal Cardiology Unit of Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in BCNatal (Center for Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Barcelona) will be included. The first week will take place halfway through the course in order to expand knowledge, improve skills on echocardiography and facilitate interaction with mentors, faculty members and colleagues. The second week is scheduled at the end of the postgraduate to consolidate knowledge and improve understanding on novel or more advanced techniques.
During these two periods the participants will have the opportunity to meet the faculty and their mentors. The stays will include the following activities:
* “Meet the professor” sessions that enable personal discussion on the most relevant aspects of each module, based on clinical cases, with the faculty members.
* Invited lectures from international experts on a specific topic of interest including basis of fetal cardiac magnetic resonance, core aspects on the assessment of the right ventricle, electrocardiogram, genetics in CHD, impact of CHD on neurodevelopment, fetal-neonatal transition and fetal cardiac programming. This will enable interaction with the postgraduate faculty members and also with invited professors from other universities experts in a specific topic of interest.
• Practical training. Dedicated sessions with volunteer patients, with hands-on fetal echocardiography with reduced number of attendees, enabling to teach tips and tricks for both structural and functional echocardiography.
• Workshops on 4D-STIC, strain quantification and 3D printed models of the heart to gain advanced knowledge on particular cases of CHD.
• Specific meet with the mentor sessions in order to discuss any doubt on specific topics and to define and plan the research work (fist onsite week at mid course).
• Defense of the research work, enabling the discussion with colleagues and the faculty members (second onsite week at the end of the postgraduate).
The postgraduate training includes the completion of a research work that will be evaluated by the Academic Committee. The research work usually includes a critical literature review of a specific topic that can be complemented by original data from the student’s institution. The research work is conducted personally by the student, under the guidance and supervision of a mentor. The topic is chosen and planned during the first onsite week and defensed at the second onsite week.
1st March 2021 to 1st March 2022
Fetal I+D Education Barcelona
Directors and scientific committee:
- Olga Gómez
- Fàtima Crispi
- Josep M Martinez
Fetal I+D Academic Direction and Supervision:
- Francesc Figueras
- Eduard Gratacos
The presential part will take place in Barcelona.