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J Ultrasound Med. 2005 Dec;24(12):1685-96.

Tomographic ultrasound imaging of the fetal heart: a new technique for identifying normal and abnormal cardiac anatomy.

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  • 1Fetal Diagnostic Center, 301 S Fair Oaks Ave, Suite 206, Pasadena, CA 91105 USA.



In 2003 and 2004, the American College of Radiology, the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published guidelines for the standard ultrasound examination of the fetus. Each group recommended that the outflow tracts of the fetal heart be examined if technically feasible. One method to accomplish this task is to perform a free-hand sweep of the transducer beam directed in a transverse plane from the 4-chamber view to the fetal neck. One problem with this approach is that the examiner may not direct the beam transversely and, therefore, may not accurately identify the outflow tract anatomy.


A new technology, tomographic ultrasound imaging (TUI), allows the examiner to obtain a volume data set that simultaneously displays multiple images at specific distances from the 4-chamber view. This study examined TUI technology for identifying normal and abnormal fetal cardiac anatomy with the use of either static or spatiotemporal image correlation volume data sets.


The 4 views used in the screening examination of the outflow tracts of the fetal heart (4-chamber, 5-chamber, 3-vessel, and tracheal views) could be identified with the use of TUI technology in fetuses between 13 and 40 weeks' gestation. Examples of fetuses with abnormal cardiac anatomy of the outflow tracts (tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great vessels, and pulmonary stenosis) all showed abnormal anatomy on TUI.


Tomographic ultrasound imaging technology enables the fetal examiner to evaluate the 4-chamber view and the outflow tracts in a systematic manner to identify normal and abnormal cardiac anatomy.

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