Objectives.: This study was designed to define patterns of pulmonary artery and aortic growth in fetuses with tetralogy of Fallot and to determine the potential for in utero progression of right ventricular outflow tract obstruction. Background.: Despite an abundance of reports documenting the prenatal diagnosis of tetralogy of Fallot, there is little information about its course in utero. Methods.: Pulmonary artery and ascending aortic diameters were measured from prenatal and postnatal echocardiograms of 16 fetuses with tetralogy of Fallot, initially studied at 23.6 ± 6.0 (mean ± SD) weeks of gestation. Fetuses were classified retrospectively as having mild and severe tetralogy of Fallot according to whether the pulmonary artery circulation was (severe, n = 5) or was not (mild, n = 11) ductus arteriosus dependent at birth. Results.: Initial main pulmonary artery diameter was small for gestational age in 9 fetuses, large in 2 and normal in 5 compared with data from 57 gestational age-adjusted normal fetal studies; it was significantly smaller in the group with severe tetralogy of Fallot (p = 0.05). The initial main pulmonary artery/aortic diameter ratio was also smaller for the group with severe tetralogy of Fallot (0.50 ± 0.15 vs. 0.73 ± 0.14 in the group with mild tetralogy of Fallot, p = 0.01). Initial aortic and branch pulmonary artery diameters tended to be normal or near normal for age. In eight fetuses serially studied, main and branch pulmonary artery growth was normal or reduced during prenatal follow-up. Pulmonary artery growth was most reduced in two fetuses in the group with severe tetralogy of Fallot, resulting in pulmonary artery hypoplasia at birth. Two fetuses with valvular pulmonary atresia at birth had previously shown anterograde pulmonary outflow in midgestation, suggesting progression of pulmonary outflow obstruction. Conclusions.: The postnatal spectrum of pulmonary artery size in tetralogy of Fallot can be attributed to variable patterns of growth in utero. Main pulmonary artery size, main pulmonary artery/aortic diameter ratio and pattern of pulmonary artery growth may be predictive of the severity of postnatal pulmonary outflow obstruction. Pulmonary atresia can develop in utero in some fetuses with tetralogy of Fallot.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine