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Clinical course and outcome of antenatally detected atrioventricular block: experience of a single tertiary centre and review of the literature.

OBJECTIVE: The objective is to study the course and outcome of fetuses with congenital atrioventricular block (AVB) in a single centre.

METHODS: Retrospective analysis of cases diagnosed prenatally with second and third degree AVB. The clinical characteristics and outcome of fetal AVB were evaluated including in utero treatment.

RESULTS: Sixty-two cases were studied. AVB was associated with a congenital heart defect (CHD-AVB) in 17 cases (27%), whereas it was isolated (i-AVB) in 45 (73%), 42 of which were associated with maternal antibodies. There were nine (52.9%) live births in the CHD-AVB group, five of which (55%) resulted in infant deaths. In the i-AVB group, there were 40/45 (88.9%) live births and 1/40 (2.5%) infant death; 36 (90%) babies required a permanent pacemaker. The only factor predictive of postnatal death was the presence of CHD (5/9 vs 1/39 or 48.7 [3.6; 1457.7], p < 0.001). Nineteen fetuses (40.5%) with i-AVB received steroids in utero. No difference in outcome was found between the AVB treated in utero versus the no-treatment group in terms of permanent pacemaker placement, postnatal death or development of dilated cardiomyopathy.

CONCLUSION: The most important prognostic factor for congenital AVB is the association with CHD. In utero treatment remains questionable.

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