JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Three-dimensional (3D) echocardiographic analysis of congenital heart disease in the fetus: comparison with cross-sectional (2D) fetal echocardiography.

OBJECTIVE: We attempted to assess the ability of Doppler-gated three-dimensional (3D) fetal echocardiography to reconstruct and display specific cardiac structures in fetuses with cardiac anomalies and to determine whether any advantage is offered by 3D sonographic cardiac examination over conventional fetal echocardiography.

DESIGN: After 2D fetal echocardiographic examination, 3D cardiac data were collected prospectively in 22 fetuses with various congenital heart defects. Their ages ranged from 19 to 35 weeks' gestation. Basic echocardiographic key views of the venoatrial, atrioventricular and ventriculoarterial connections were derived from volume data sets and selected for 3D reconstruction and analysis. Comparisons were made with 2D echocardiographic imaging of the fetal hearts and the diagnostic image quality of visualized structural details was evaluated.

RESULTS: The underlying cardiac malformation was well or satisfactorily visualized in 20 fetuses using 2D imaging. Gated 3D volume data sets enabled diagnostically acceptable visualization of all affected cardiac structures in 7 of 22 fetuses. High-quality 3D reconstruction of the site and spatial orientation of ventricular septal defects was obtained in 9 of 13 patients. Two-dimensional imaging remained the principal diagnostic modality in all cases with additional structural detail being obtained by 3D imaging in only two fetuses.

CONCLUSIONS: Three-dimensional imaging of fetal heart disease is feasible for a wide range of lesions, and may provide additional information of clinical value in a small number of cases when compared with 2D imaging.

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