Conotruncal anomalies in fetal life: accuracy of diagnosis, associated defects and outcome

A Galindo, A Mendoza, J Arbues, A Grañeras, D Escribano, O Nieto
European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology 2009, 146 (1): 55-60

OBJECTIVES: To assess the accuracy of prenatal echocardiography, associated anomalies, and outcome of fetuses with conotruncal anomalies (CTA).

STUDY DESIGN: We searched our database for CTA prenatally diagnosed between 1990 and 2005. We included tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), transposition of the great arteries (TGA), double-outlet right ventricle (DORV), truncus arteriosus (TA), pulmonary atresia with ventricular septal defect (PA-VSD) and posterior malalignment type VSD with aortic arch obstruction (pmtVSD-AAO). Data of 144 fetuses with complete follow-up were retrieved and analyzed.

RESULTS: The main reason for referral was suspected heart defect on a routine obstetric scan (72%). Most cases were detected < or =22 weeks (55%). The presence of a CTA was confirmed postnatally in 143 cases (99%), and the diagnosis of the first fetal echocardiography was correct in 126 (87.5%). Most diagnosis of TOF (33/36, 91.7%), TGA (34/38, 89.5%) and DORV (34/38, 89.5%) were proved correct. Inadequate assessment of the interventricular septum, the distal aortic arch and/or the severity of the right outflow tract obstruction accounted for most errors. The accuracy rate was lower in TA (11/14, 78.6%) and PA-VSD (4/7, 57.1%), with evaluation of the branch pulmonary arteries as the main source of discrepancies. In 7/18 incorrect cases subsequent scans allowed to obtain a correct diagnosis. Most fetuses (64%) had an isolated CTA. Thirty-seven had chromosomal anomalies (26%) but none were found in TGA. 22q11 deletion affected 8.7% of the tested patients. Nuchal translucency (NT) was above 95th centile in 19/104 cases (18%) in which NT were measured. Fifty cases were interrupted. The overall one-year survival rate was 71%, with differences between cases with and without associated defects (9/25, 36% vs. 57/68, 83.8%; p<0.01). The uncomplicated forms of TGA and TOF had the best survival rates (100%).

CONCLUSIONS: Most CTA can be diagnosed by fetal echocardiography with a high degree of accuracy. Chromosomal defects should always be ruled out, except for simple TGA. Current survival figures in many isolated CTA, especially simple TGA and TOF, support a change in the "classical" concept that congenital heart defects detected prenatally often have the worst outlook.

CONDENSATION: Most CTA can be diagnosed by fetal echocardiography with a high degree of accuracy. Isolated CTA are more common and most of these may have a favourable outcome.

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