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Ventriculo-atrial time interval measured on M mode echocardiography: a determining element in diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of fetal supraventricular tachycardia
  1. E Jaeggi,
  2. J C Fouron,
  3. A Fournier,
  4. N van Doesburg,
  5. S P Drblik,
  6. F Proulx
  1. Fetal Cardiology Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Sainte-Justine Hospital, University of Montreal, 3175 Côte Ste Catherine, Montreal, Quebec H3T 1C5, Canada
  1. Dr Fouron. email: fouronj{at}ere.umontreal.ca

Abstract

Objective To determine whether M mode echocardiography can differentiate fetal supraventricular tachycardia according to the ventriculo-atrial (VA) time interval, and if the resulting division into short and long VA intervals holds any relation with clinical presentation, management, and fetal outcome.

Design Retrospective case series.

Subjects 23 fetuses with supraventricular tachycardia.

Main outcome measures A systematic review of the M mode echocardiograms (for VA and atrioventricular (AV) interval measurements), clinical profile, and final outcome.

Results 19 fetuses (82.6%) had supraventricular tachycardia of the short VA type (mean (SD) VA/AV ratio 0.34 (0.16); heart rate 231 (29) beats/min). Tachycardia was sustained in six and intermittent in 13. Hydrops was present in three (15.7%). Digoxin, the first drug given in 14, failed to control tachycardia in five. Three of these then received sotalol and converted to sinus rhythm. All fetuses of this group survived. Postnatally, supraventricular tachycardia recurred in three, two having Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. Four fetuses (17.4%) had long VA tachycardia (VA/AV ratio 3.89 (0.82); heart rate 226 (10) beats/min). Initial treatment with digoxin was ineffective in all, but sotalol was effective in two. Heart failure caused fetal death in one and premature delivery in one. All three surviving fetuses had recurrences of supraventricular tachycardia after birth: two had the permanent form of junctional reciprocating tachycardia and one had atrial ectopic tachycardia.

Conclusions Careful measurement of ventriculo-atrial intervals on fetal M mode echocardiography can be used to distinguish short from long VA supraventricular tachycardia and may be helpful in optimising management. Digoxin, when indicated, may remain the drug of choice in the short VA type but appears ineffective in the long VA type.

  • fetus
  • supraventricular tachycardia
  • ventriculo-atrial interval
  • digoxin

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