Contribution of Fetal Magnetocardiography to Diagnosis, Risk Assessment, and Treatment of Fetal Arrhythmia

Annette Wacker-Gussmann, Janette F Strasburger, Ronald T Wakai
Journal of the American Heart Association 2022 July 29, : e025224
Background Fetal echocardiography has been the mainstay of fetal arrhythmia diagnosis; however, fetal magnetocardiography (fMCG) has recently become clinically available. We sought to determine to what extent fMCG contributed to the precision and accuracy of fetal arrhythmia diagnosis and risk assessment, and in turn, how this altered pregnancy management. Methods and Results We reviewed fMCG tracings and medical records of 215 pregnancies referred to the Biomagnetism Laboratory, UW-Madison, over the last 10 years, because of fetal arrhythmia or risk of arrhythmia. We compared referral diagnosis and treatment with fMCG diagnosis using a rating scale and restricted our review to the 144 subjects from the tachycardia, bradycardia/AV block, and familial long QT syndrome categories. Additional fMCG findings beyond those of the referring echocardiogram, or an alternative diagnosis were seen in 117/144 (81%), and 81 (56%) were critical changes. Eight (5.5%) had resolution of arrhythmia before fMCG. At least moderate changes in management were seen in 109/144 (76%) fetuses, of which 35/144 (24%) were major. The most diverse fMCG presentation was long QT syndrome, present in all 3 referral categories. Four of 5 stillbirths were seen with long QT syndrome. Nine fetuses showed torsades de pointes ventricular tachycardia, of which only 2 were recognized before fMCG. Conclusions FMCG has a significant impact on prenatal diagnosis and management of arrhythmias or familial arrhythmia risk, which cannot be fully met by existing technology. The combination of fMCG and fetal echocardiography in fetal care centers will be needed in the future to optimize care.

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