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Circulation. 2011 Oct 18;124(16):1747-54. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.026120. Epub 2011 Sep 19.

Comparison of transplacental treatment of fetal supraventricular tachyarrhythmias with digoxin, flecainide, and sotalol: results of a nonrandomized multicenter study.

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Labatt Family Heart Center, The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.



Fetal tachyarrhythmia may result in low cardiac output and death. Consequently, antiarrhythmic treatment is offered in most affected pregnancies. We compared 3 drugs commonly used to control supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and atrial flutter (AF).


We reviewed 159 consecutive referrals with fetal SVT (n=114) and AF (n=45). Of these, 75 fetuses with SVT and 36 with AF were treated nonrandomly with transplacental flecainide (n=35), sotalol (n=52), or digoxin (n=24) as a first-line agent. Prenatal treatment failure was associated with an incessant versus intermittent arrhythmia pattern (n=85; hazard ratio [HR]=3.1; P<0.001) and, for SVT, with fetal hydrops (n=28; HR=1.8; P=0.04). Atrial flutter had a lower rate of conversion to sinus rhythm before delivery than SVT (HR=2.0; P=0.005). Cardioversion at 5 and 10 days occurred in 50% and 63% of treated SVT cases, respectively, but in only 25% and 41% of treated AF cases. Sotalol was associated with higher rates of prenatal AF termination than digoxin (HR=5.4; P=0.05) or flecainide (HR=7.4; P=0.03). If incessant AF/SVT persisted to day 5 (n=45), median ventricular rates declined more with flecainide (-22%) and digoxin (-13%) than with sotalol (-5%; P<0.001). Flecainide (HR=2.1; P=0.02) and digoxin (HR=2.9; P=0.01) were also associated with a higher rate of conversion of fetal SVT to a normal rhythm over time. No serious drug-related adverse events were observed, but arrhythmia-related mortality was 5%.


Flecainide and digoxin were superior to sotalol in converting SVT to a normal rhythm and in slowing both AF and SVT to better-tolerated ventricular rates and therefore might be considered first to treat significant fetal tachyarrhythmia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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