Effectiveness of pulse oximetry screening for congenital heart disease in asymptomatic newborns

Robert I Koppel, Charlotte M Druschel, Tonia Carter, Barry E Goldberg, Prabhu N Mehta, Rohit Talwar, Fredrick Z Bierman
Pediatrics 2003, 111 (3): 451-5

OBJECTIVE: To determine the sensitivity, specificity, predictive value, and accuracy of a program of pulse oximetry screening of asymptomatic newborns for critical congenital cardiovascular malformation (CCVM).

METHODS: Pulse oximetry was performed on asymptomatic newborns in the well-infant nurseries of 2 hospitals. Cardiac ultrasound was performed on infants with positive screens (saturation <or=95% at >24 hours). Data regarding true and false positives as well as negatives were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS: Oximetry was performed on 11 281 asymptomatic newborns, and 3 cases of CCVM were detected (total anomalous pulmonary venous return x2, truncus arteriosus). During the study interval, there were 9 live births of infants with CCVM from a group of 15 fetuses with CCVM detected by fetal echocardiography. Six infants with CCVM were symptomatic before screening. There was 1 false-positive screen. Two infants with negative screens were readmitted (coarctation, hypoplastic left pulmonary artery with aorto-pulmonary collaterals). Other cardiac diagnoses in the database search were nonurgent, including cases of patent foramen ovale, peripheral pulmonic stenosis, and ventricular septal defect. The prevalence of critical CCVM among all live births was 1 in 564 and among the screened population was 1 in 2256 (sensitivity: 60%; specificity: 99.95%; positive predictive value: 75%; negative predictive value: 99.98%; accuracy: 99.97%).

CONCLUSIONS: This screening test is simple, noninvasive, and inexpensive and can be administered in conjunction with state-mandated screening. The false-negative screen patients had lesions not amenable to detection by oximetry. The sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value in this population are satisfactory, indicating that screening should be applied to larger populations, particularly where lower rates of fetal detection result in increased CCVM prevalence in asymptomatic newborns.

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