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Pattern of pulmonary venous blood flow in the hypoplastic left heart syndrome in the fetus
  1. D J Better,
  2. H D Apfel,
  3. V Zidere,
  4. L D Allan
  1. Department of Pediatric Cardiology, Babies Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, 3959 Broadway, New York, NY 10032, USA
  1. Dr Allan. email: la48{at}


OBJECTIVE To determine whether restriction at the atrial septum in the newborn with hypoplastic left heart syndrome can be predicted accurately by examining the pattern of pulmonary venous flow in the fetus. A restrictive atrial septum can contribute to haemodynamic instability before surgery for this lesion and has been associated with an increased mortality.

DESIGN Pulmonary venous pulsed Doppler tracings were compared between fetuses with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and controls. The size of the atrial septal defect on the postnatal echocardiogram was graded according to the degree of restriction. Pulsed Doppler tracings of pulmonary venous blood flow were obtained in 18 fetuses with left atrial outflow atresia and compared with 77 controls, adjusted for gestational age. Postnatal echocardiograms were available for analysis in 13 of 18 neonates.

SETTING A tertiary referral centre for fetal cardiology and paediatric cardiac surgery.

RESULTS Fetuses with hypoplastic left heart syndrome were different from controls in all pulmonary vein indices measured. As assessed from the postnatal echocardiogram, there were seven fetuses with a restrictive atrial septum. In these fetuses, the systolic flow velocity (p < 0.01), S/D ratio (p < 0.01), and peak reversal wave (p < 0.001) in the pulmonary vein tracing showed a good correlation with the degree of restriction.

CONCLUSIONS The Doppler pattern of pulmonary venous flow in the fetus with hypoplastic left heart syndrome appears to be a reliable predictor of restriction of the atrial septum in the neonate. This may help in the immediate post-delivery management of these infants before surgery.

  • fetus
  • congenital heart defects
  • echocardiography
  • risk factors

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