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Am J Cardiol. 2010 Dec 15;106(12):1792-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2010.08.022.

Assessment of left ventricular endocardial fibroelastosis in fetuses with aortic stenosis and evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Children's Hospital Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Systematic evaluation of left ventricular (LV) endocardial fibroelastosis (EFE) in the fetus has not been reported. The role of EFE in the pre- and postnatal evolution of hypoplastic left heart disease, and the implications of EFE for outcomes after prenatal intervention for fetal aortic stenosis with evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome have also not been determined. A 4-point grading system (0-3) was devised for the assessment of fetal LV echogenicity, which was presumed to be due to EFE. Two reviewers independently graded EFE on the preintervention echocardiograms of fetuses treated with in utero aortic valvuloplasty for evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome from 2000 to 2008. Intra- and interobserver reproducibility was determined for the EFE grade and characterization of related echocardiographic features. The relations among EFE severity, other left heart anatomic and physiologic variables, and postintervention outcomes were analyzed. The assessment and grading of EFE was possible for both observers in all 74 fetuses studied. By consensus, the EFE severity was grade 1 in 31 patients, grade 2 in 32, and grade 3 in 11. Fetuses with mild (grade 1) EFE had significantly greater maximum instantaneous aortic stenosis gradients (e.g., higher LV pressures) and less globular LV geometry than patients with grade 2 or 3 EFE on preintervention echocardiogram. The severity of EFE was not associated with the size of the aortic valve or LV. From preintervention to late gestation, the time-indexed change in LV end-diastolic volume was significantly greater in fetuses with grade 1 EFE than those with more severe EFE. Incorporation of EFE severity into our previously published threshold score improved the sensitivity and positive predictive value for the postnatal biventricular outcomes. In conclusion, echocardiographic grading of EFE is possible, with reasonable intra- and interobserver reliability in midgestation fetuses with evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome. EFE severity corresponded to some indexes of left heart size, geometry, and function and with the probability of a biventricular outcome postnatally. Additional experience and external validation of the EFE grading scoring system are necessary.

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