At Tiny Tickers, we want to increase early detection rates of cardiac conditions because we know that spotting a defect early can improve a baby’s chances of survival and long-term quality of life. One of the main ways we do this is by training the sonographers who carry out pregnancy scans (20 week scans) to have the skills and confidence to detect heart defects in unborn babies.
To further assist the sonographers who scan babies at pregnancy scans, we created the situs doll. Each doll will help sonographers assess the tiny hearts of the babies they scan at 20 weeks gestation. This Giving Tuesday we have been asking for donations towards providing these dolls to hospitals around the UK. So far we have managed to raise nearly £800, with 66 dolls named and ready to be sent to hospitals in the UK.
Our Head of Training, Anne Rhodes, explains why she created situs dolls and how they help save lives:
‘One of the first things a sonographer does when starting a 20 week anatomy scan is to find out which way round the baby is lying.
Babies can lie in any position in the womb and this changes all the time as the baby moves around. They can be lying with their head up towards mum’s head, they can be upside down or on their side, curled up or stretched out.
It is important to work out which is the left and right side of the baby because the sonographer needs to check that the baby’s internal organs are in the right place.
Understanding which way round the baby is lying inside the mother is one aspect of the scan that can be very challenging. Working out where the baby’s head and spine are and then imagining the position of the baby can be difficult.
To help with this, while out delivering training to sonographers, I came to realise that by physically placing a baby doll (the same size as a 20 weeks fetus) over the mothers abdomen in the same position as the baby is lying, it helped the sonographer to work out the baby’s right and left side.
Then, I dressed the doll in a t-shirt which has an anatomical diagram of the heart on.
This helps the sonographer see which way the heart should be pointing. The heart diagram also has lines through it and these demonstrate where the scan probe should be over the heart to obtain all the views required by the sonographer in accordance with the fetal anomaly screening programme.
This is a simple, effective and practical way of confirming orientation and helps the sonographer to obtain the views they need when the baby is in different positions.’
Our mission is to ensure that every sonographer has access to a situs doll, to assist them with scanning unborn babies. Each doll costs just £10 and will help a whole sonography team in a hospital as they scan thousands of pregnant women every year.
You can read more about this exciting update on our website www.tinytickers.org