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J Am Coll Cardiol. 1999 Jun;33(7):2052-8.

Bubble contrast echocardiography in detecting pulmonary arteriovenous shunting in children with univentricular heart after cavopulmonary anastomosis.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA.



We sought to compare bubble contrast echocardiography and pulmonary angiography in detecting pulmonary arteriovenous malformation (PAVM) in children with cavopulmonary anastomosis (CPA), and to examine anatomic and physiologic variables associated with the development of PAVM.


Development of PAVM in patients with CPA may cause profound cyanosis. Pulmonary arteriovenous malformation has been traditionally diagnosed by pulmonary angiography with reported incidence of 20% to 25% in patients with CPA.


Fourteen patients (age 1.1 to 12.6 years) with any forms of CPA and normal pulmonary venous drainage formed the study population. All patients underwent cardiac catheterization and pulmonary angiography. Bubble contrast echocardiographic studies were performed with injection of 10 ml of agitated saline solution into branch pulmonary arteries. Transthoracic echocardiograms using an apical view were performed to assess the appearance of bubble contrast in the systemic ventricles. We compared the results of pulmonary angiograms and contrast echocardiograms, and findings of contrast echocardiograms between lungs with hepatic venous blood flow and lungs without hepatic venous blood.


Ten of the 14 patients (71%) had positive contrast echocardiographic studies, compared with three (21%) detected by pulmonary angiograms (p = 0.01). No difference was found in pulmonary artery pressure, transpulmonary gradient or presence of heterotaxy syndrome between patients with positive contrast echocardiographic studies and patients with negative studies. However, patients with positive contrast echocardiograms tended to have lower oxygen saturation (81%) and higher hemoglobin (16.4 g/dl) compared with patients with negative studies (88% and 14.7 g/dl, p = 0.10 and p = 0.18 respectively). Patients with Glenn shunt or unidirectional Fontan had higher incidence of PAVM (10/11) compared with patients with classic or lateral tunnel Fontan (0/3, p = 0.01). All 12 lungs with no perfusion of hepatic venous blood had positive contrast echocardiographic studies. Lungs with no hepatic venous blood flow were more likely to develop PAVM compared with lungs with hepatic venous blood flow (12/12 and 3/16 respectively, p < 0.01).


Bubble contrast echocardiography is more sensitive in detecting PAVM compared with pulmonary angiography. The prevalence of PAVM in patients with CPA may be much higher than what had been reported previously. Lungs with no hepatic venous blood flow are more likely to develop PAVM than lungs with hepatic venous blood flow.

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