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Heart. 2003 Sep;89(9):1071-3.

Tricuspid regurgitation in the diagnosis of chromosomal anomalies in the fetus at 11-14 weeks of gestation.

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Fetal Cardiology Unit, Harris Birthright Research Centre for Fetal Medicine, King's College Hospital, London, UK.



To analyse patient data to elucidate the apparent association between an abnormal karyotype and tricuspid regurgitation found during fetal echocardiography at early gestations.


Tertiary referral centre for fetal medicine and cardiology.


Fetuses between 11 and 14 weeks' gestation were selected for detailed echocardiography. Referral reasons were increased nuchal translucency, a suspected cardiac or extracardiac malformation, and a family history of cardiac malformation.


The fetus was imaged transabdominally. The four chamber view, outflow tracts, arterial duct, and aortic arch were assessed on cross sectional imaging and colour flow mapping. Pulsed Doppler of the atrioventricular valves was recorded if possible. Subsequently, the fetal karyotype was ascertained by chorionic villous sampling.


Pulsed Doppler recording of the tricuspid valve was obtained for 262 fetuses. Tricuspid regurgitation was present in 70 (27%) of these, of whom 58 (83%) proved to have karyotype anomalies. In contrast, 68 (35%) of those without tricuspid regurgitation were found to have karyotype anomalies (95% confidence interval 36% to 59%, p < 0.001). Structural heart defects were detected in 34 of the 58 (59%) with tricuspid regurgitation and in 22 (32%) of those without. The chromosome defect most frequently found to be associated with tricuspid regurgitation was trisomy 21, but all types of karyotypic anomalies were seen in association.


A careful search for tricuspid regurgitation is an important aspect of the evaluation of the early fetus, as this is frequently a marker for chromosomal defects even in the absence of structural heart disease.

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