Fetal cardiac asymmetry: A marker for congenital heart disease

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Objective: To determine the sensitivity of prenatally detected fetal cardiac asymmetry as a sonographic marker for congenital heart disease. Methods: The normal ratios of pulmonary artery to aorta diameters and of right ventricle to left ventricle diameters were derived from normal fetuses scanned at 17 weeks or more in a 65-month period. Cross-sectional diameters of cardiac ventricles and great arteries were measured at the level of the valves at the time of the scan. Fetuses with confirmed cardiac anomalies detected prenatally during the study were examined to identify how many had cardiac asymmetry, determined by abnormal ratios. Results: Linear regression analysis of the group of 881 normal fetuses showed the normal pulmonary artery to aorta diameter ratio remained constant throughout pregnancy and the normal right ventricle to left ventricle ratio increased slightly with progressing gestational age. The 90% confidence intervals were 0.79, 1.24 for the right ventricle to left ventricle ratio and 0.84, 1.41 for the pulmonary artery to aorta ratio. Of the 73 fetuses with abnormal hearts, 66% had either ventricular or great artery asymmetry (at least one of the two ratios was abnormal). However, if no asymmetry was present, the cardiac defect was more likely to be a minor one. Conclusion: Cardiac asymmetry was present in two- thirds of fetuses with cardiac anomalies diagnosed prenatally. If cardiac asymmetry is found, a more thorough examination of the fetal heart is indicated.




Kirk, J. S., Comstock, C. H., Lee, W., Smith, R. S., Riggs, T. W., & Weinhouse, E. (1999). Fetal cardiac asymmetry: A marker for congenital heart disease. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 93(2), 189–192. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0029-7844(98)00391-3

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