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Fetal echocardiography of anomalous pulmonary venous connection

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Prenatal diagnosis of total (TAPVC) or partial (PAPVC) anomalous pulmonary venous connection in isolation or associated with other cardiac disease is important for appropriate prenatal counseling and perinatal management. We sought to assess the echocardiographic clues to the fetal diagnosis of TAPVC and PAPVC in a cohort of affected fetuses.


We retrospectively reviewed 29 fetal echocardiograms performed in 16 pregnancies with fetal TAPVC or PAPVC, systematically analyzing heart chamber size, presence of a confluence behind the left atrium or of a vertical vein, and Doppler flow patterns.


Prenatal diagnosis was made at a mean gestational age of 27 ± 7 weeks. TAPVC was found in 11 cases; five cases for each of supracardiac and infracardiac types and one mixed type. PAPVC was diagnosed in five fetuses, four of which had scimitar syndrome. Ten fetuses had an additional major cardiac defect, including hypoplastic left heart syndrome and right atrial isomerism. In three cases the prenatal diagnosis was only made at follow‐up assessment. Among TAPVC cases, visualization of a confluence behind the left atrium (10/11) and a vertical vein (11/11) were the most consistent echocardiographic clues. Dextrocardia and a small right pulmonary artery suggested scimitar syndrome. The diagnosis was confirmed postnatally or at autopsy in 12 cases. In six fetuses with TAPVC and obstruction confirmed postnatally, continuous turbulent flow in the vertical vein and monophasic continuous flow in the pulmonary veins were demonstrated by color and spectral Doppler.


Fetal echocardiography permits prenatal diagnosis of TAPVC or PAPVC. Spectral and color Doppler provide clues to the presence of an obstructed pulmonary venous pathway. Copyright © 2003 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Keywords: anomalous pulmonary venous connection; fetal echocardiography; pulmonary venous flow pattern

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Pediatrics, Division of Cardiology, Fetal Cardiac Program, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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