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Echocardiographic-anatomical correlations in aorto-left ventricular tunnel.
  1. A. C. Cook,
  2. N. L. Fagg,
  3. S. Y. Ho,
  4. A. M. Groves,
  5. G. K. Sharland,
  6. R. H. Anderson,
  7. L. D. Allan
  1. Department of Fetal Cardiology, Guy's Hospital, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To investigate the echocardiographic, morphological, and histological appearances of aorto-left ventricular tunnel observed in four fetal hearts and compare the findings with those reported in older patients with the malformation. BACKGROUND--Previous studies have concentrated on clinical features of the malformation from birth to adult life and have speculated on either its embryological formation or its acquisition during late intrauterine life. The presentation of a large series of cases in fetal life is a unique opportunity to study the malformation at an early stage in its natural course. METHODS--A retrospective study was performed of four cases of aorto-left ventricular tunnel discovered among 872 cases of congenital abnormalities diagnosed at a tertiary centre for fetal echocardiography. Detailed echocardiographic and anatomical observations were made of the malformation as identified during fetal life. The precise anatomical arrangement was determined and compared with previous descriptions found in journals published in English. RESULTS--In fetal life, as after birth, the malformation is characterised by enlargement and hypertrophy of the left ventricle, enlargement of the aortic root, and free regurgitation at the level of the aortic valve. Anatomical abnormalities are found at the aortic ventriculoarterial and sinutubular junctions as well as in the intervening aortic wall. These are unrelated to necrosis, ischaemia, or the presence of mucopolysaccharides. CONCLUSIONS--The lesion is a developmental abnormality that should be reliably diagnosed by fetal echocardiography combined with colour flow Doppler echocardiography during the mid-trimester. The exact anatomical relations clarified by this study are pertinent to diagnosis and subsequent surgical correction.

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