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J Am Soc Echocardiogr. 2012 Oct;25(10):1068-74. doi: 10.1016/j.echo.2012.06.005. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Right ventricular function in fetal hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

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  • 1Fetal and Neonatal Cardiology Program, Division of Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, Women and Children's Health Research and Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institutes, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.



The systemic right ventricle in palliated hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) has relatively reduced longitudinal compared with circumferential deformation, a pattern of contraction more akin to the normal left ventricle, which presumably improves right ventricular (RV) pumping efficiency. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that these changes in the RV contraction pattern in infants with HLHS are present prenatally.


Echocardiograms from 48 fetuses with HLHS were retrospectively compared with those from appropriately grown RV and left ventricular controls. Ventricular function was assessed using Velocity Vector Imaging velocity, tissue deformation, two-dimensional echocardiography, and Doppler flow parameters.


Fetuses with HLHS demonstrated reduced peak global RV longitudinal velocity (P < .01), strain (P < .001), and displacement (P < .05), while radial displacement was increased (P < .001) compared with the normal fetal right ventricle. Mean RV diameter was increased in HLHS (P < .001), but length was unchanged. The ratio of longitudinal to circumferential deformation was reduced in HLHS compared with the normal right ventricle (P < .001) and equivalent to the normal left ventricle. Tricuspid inflow peak A-wave velocity (P < .01), A-wave duration, A-wave inflow fraction, RV Tei index (P < .05 for all), and inferior vena cava A-wave reversal (P < .0001) were increased in HLHS.


The fetal right ventricle in HLHS becomes more spherical because of increased RV diameter. It has relatively reduced longitudinal compared with circumferential deformation and an increased reliance on atrial contraction for ventricular filling. These findings are similar to postnatal changes observed in the systemic right ventricle in palliated congenital heart disease, suggesting that ventricular remodeling is initiated in fetal life.

Copyright © 2012 American Society of Echocardiography. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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