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Antenatal prediction of pulmonary hypoplasia by acceleration time/ejection time ratio of fetal pulmonary arteries by Doppler blood flow velocimetry

Shinji Fuke, Toru Kanzaki, Junwu Mu, Kenshi Wasada, Masahiko Takemura, Nobuaki Mitsuda, Yuji Murata
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2003, 188 (1): 228-33

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to develop a new method for the antenatal prediction of pulmonary hypoplasia by Doppler blood flow velocimetry.

STUDY DESIGN: One hundred seventy-seven fetuses (160 normal fetuses and 17 fetuses with congenital anomalies that may affect fetal lung growth and/or development) were studied. Blood flow waveforms at the main branches of the pulmonary arteries were recorded by Doppler echocardiography from 20 to 39 weeks of gestation. The ratio of acceleration time to ejection time was calculated from the waveform as a parameter to predict pulmonary hypoplasia.

RESULTS: Doppler waveform of normal fetal pulmonary artery showed a "spike-and-dome" pattern. The normal values of acceleration time/ejection time ratio from the right and left pulmonary arteries were 0.17 +/- 0.04 and 0.15 +/- 0.04, respectively. These values were not significantly altered through the gestational age observed in this study. The acceleration time/ejection time ratio of either right or left pulmonary artery was measured successfully in all cases of fetal congenital anomalies. In 8 of 17 fetuses, acceleration time/ejection time ratio was measured at both of the pulmonary arteries. Because of a congenital anomaly that affected the fetal lung or thorax asymmetrically (as in congenital diaphragmatic hernia or congenital cystic adenomatoid malformations of the lung), the acceleration time/ejection time ratio of both of the pulmonary arteries could be measured in only 5 of 13 fetuses. The technical difficulties for the measurement always existed in the affected side. Eleven of the 17 fetuses with congenital anomalies survived without signs of clinical pulmonary hypoplasia or persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn infant. The fetuses revealed normal acceleration time/ejection time ratio from at least one pulmonary artery. The remaining 6 fetuses died of pulmonary hypoplasia, and the diagnosis was confirmed by autopsy or clinical findings. Of those 6 fetuses, 5 fetuses demonstrated the acceleration time/ejection time ratio below normal in one side, and the ratio could not be obtained on the other side; 1 fetus showed the acceleration time/ejection time ratio below the normal range in both sides.

CONCLUSION: The acceleration time/ejection time ratio by Doppler velocimetry that was obtained at the main branches of fetal pulmonary artery was consistent throughout gestational age from 20 to 39 weeks. This ratio appears to be an accurate parameter with which to predict the subsequent development of pulmonary hypoplasia and clinical outcomes of the newborn infants with high positive and negative predictive values (positive predictive value, 100%; negative predictive value, 100%).

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