Thirty normal hearts from fetuses aborted at 10-33 weeks' gestation were measured directly and the results were compared with echocardiographic measurements in 20 normal live fetuses of 23-27 weeks' gestation. The diameters of the aorta, aortic isthmus, pulmonary arteries, and arterial duct were measured at standard levels and expressed as a ratio of the diameter of the ascending aorta. The ratios for the isthmus, the duct, and the right pulmonary artery were: 0.63 (0.11), 0.51 (0.13), 0.56 (0.10) respectively for the direct measurement and 0.73 (0.07), 0.7 (0.08), 0.62 (0.06) respectively at echocardiography. These results show that in mid-gestation the isthmus of the human fetus is not as small as that reported in animal models. This indicates that the distribution of the fetal circulation may not be the same either.
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