Dr. Lindsey D. Allan, MD, FRCP, graduated from the University of Glasgow, Scotland in 1969. She completed her residency in pediatrics and cardiology at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow ('70-'72). She became Fellow in medical genetics at the Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow ('72-'73), and later on fellow in pediatric cardiology at the Guy's Hospital, London ('80-'83). She went on to become Professor of Pediatric Cardiology, UMDS, University of London. After her marriage and immigration to the United States, Allan took up in 1993 the appointment as Professor of Pediatrics and attending physician at the Presbyterian Hospital, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York.

In 1979 while at Guy's Hospital, and working under Professor Michael Tynan in Pediatric cardiology, Allan had started to look into the in-utero diagnosis of fetal cardiac disease using M-mode and real-time ultrasound. In 1980 she visited the laboratory of the David Sahn, L W Lange and Kathryn Reed group in Tuscon, Arizona to look into their equipment and methods. The group had also started real-time studies of the fetal heart in the same year using linear arrays, machines which were mainly Japanese in origin. "In these days looking at the fetal heart felt like trying to read a foreign language without a dictionary, or a map without a key ....", commented Allan in her book "Textbook of Fetal Cardiology" in 2000.

Some of Allan's early work in prenatal diagnosis of fetal cardiac anomalies were done in collaboration with professor Stuart Campbell at the King's College Hospital. From 1980 to 1986 she published a series of 20 papers on M-mode echocardiography, cross-sectional real-time fetal echocardiography and later on doppler echocardiography in the fetus. In particular she described eight fetal scanning planes for realtime ultrasonic study of the fetal heart and the diagnosis of of fetal cardiac malformations at 16-18 weeks. Her early work was based on the mechanical sector ATL Mk III and the phased-array HP 77020A with doppler capabilities. These scanners were also used for pediatric echographic studies in the department. Very good linear and convex sector arrays and phased-arrays were starting to come into the market, and 2-D real-time pediatric 'echo' had also become an integral part of the diagnostic armamentarium in pediatric cardiology.

Allan's work had most importantly pointed out to the perinatal community at that time that real-time systematic cross-sectional study and diagnosis of fetal cardiac anomalies in utero in the second trimester was a distinct possibility and would develop no doubt into a distinctive diagnostic science.

Many were dubious of her early efforts but their doubts had made Allan most determined in her research in fetal echocardiographic diagnosis. In her first book in 1986, "Manual of Fetal Echocardiography" which has been based on her past 6 years' experience and learning in fetal echocardiography, she wrote in the preface: "This book is dedicated to all those people throughout my life who have inspired me by telling me that my proposed next step was impossible."

In the early 1980s, the department at Guy's Hospital was the earliest to develop lectures, basic and advanced fetal echocardiography courses for Obstetricians, Radiologists and Pediatric cardiologists. The department had moved quickly to become the national referral center for fetal cardiography in the United Kingdom and one of the world's most important centers of fetal echo-cardiographic research and training. The center had also pioneered the concept of routine screening for fetal cardiac abnormalities. Allan lectures regularly both home and internationally. More importantly was the fact that recent evidence in the United Kingdom have demonstrated that the training program for ultrasonographers started at Guy's Hospital by Allan and her colleagues had resulted in above average detection of fetal cardiac abnormality in certain parts of the country.

Allan was also responsible for important pioneer work on fetal spectral and color doppler echocardiography, transvaginal fetal echocardiography which had enabled cardiac anomalies to be diagnosed at 14-18 weeks. In 1994 she published the first 1000 consecutive cases of congential cardiac abnormalities at Guy's Hospital. She co-authored and edited several important books on fetal cardiac ultrasound. In 1994 she edited the "Atlas of Fetal Echocardiography" with Gurleen Sharland and Andrew Cook. Sharland was her successor at Guy's Hospital after her departure. The "Textbook of Fetal Cardiology", edited by Allan, Lisa Hornberger and Sharland was published in 2000. The 600-pages book opened up and described an entirely new subject in medical science. Discussed in great detail was not just prenatal echocardiography but fetal cardiac developments, physiology, circulatory dynamics, diagnosis and assessment of individual structural and rhythmic disorders, the natural course of these anomalies and their advanced and complex postnatal management. It was a culmination of the large amount of unyielding effort Allan and her fellow workers have made in the past 20 years.

Allan is a Fellow of the Royal College of physicians and a member of numerous prestigious medical societies. Among many awards and accolaides, she received the Ian Donald gold medal from the ISUOG in 1997 for her ground-breaking work in the diagnosis and assessment of congenital cardiac defects in the fetus, and for pioneering this new specialty in medical science, that of "Fetal Cardiology".

Picture of Dr. Allan courtesy of Jonathan Smith, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York.

Back to History of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.