The construction and application of an ultrasound and anatomical cross-sectional database of structural malformations of the fetal heart

Zhen-Juan Yang, Greggory R DeVore, Qiu-Yan Pei, Ya-Ni Yan, Yun-Tao Li, Yan Wang
Prenatal Diagnosis 2020, 40 (7): 892-904

OBJECTIVES: Establish a fetal heart anatomical cross-sectional database that correlates with screening transverse ultrasound images suggested by international professional organizations to detect congenital heart defects.

METHODS: Fetuses with suspected congenital heart defects identified using the following cardiac image sequences obtained from transverse slices beginning from the upper abdomen and ending in the upper thorax were the subjects of this study: (1) four-chamber view, (2) left ventricular outflow tract view, (3) three-vessel right ventricular outflow tract view, and (4) the three-vessel tracheal view. A database of digital two-dimensional images of the transverse sweep was created for fetuses with confirmed congenital heart defects. In addition, using four-dimensional ultrasound spatial-temporal image correlation, selected transverse ultrasound images were acquired as part of the database. Ultrasound-detected congenital heart defects were confirmed postnatally from pathological specimens of the heart and lungs using a cross-sectional technique that mirrored the ultrasound images described above. When anatomical specimens were not available, prenatal ultrasound-detected congenital heart defects were confirmed using postnatal echocardiography and/or following surgery.

RESULTS: The four screening views described in the Methods section identified 160 fetuses that comprised the database. Forty-five datasets consisted of both ultrasound and anatomical cross-sectional images. Thirteen percent (6/45) only had abnormalities of the four-chamber view (eg, endocardial cushion defects). Twenty-four percent (11/45) had abnormalities of the four-chamber view as well as right and left outflow tracts (eg, complex malformations). Of these, 10 of 11 had an abnormal tracheal view. Sixteen percent (7/45) had an abnormal four-chamber view and abnormal right outflow tract (eg, pulmonary stenosis). Thirty-three percent (15/45) had a normal four-chamber view but had abnormal right and left outflow tracts as well as an abnormal tracheal view (eg, tetralogy of Fallot, D-transposition of the great arteries).

CONCLUSIONS: Combining both ultrasound and anatomical imaging may be of assistance in training imagers to recognize cardiovascular pathology when performing the screening examination of the fetal heart.

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