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Fetal Diagn Ther. 2012;32(1-2):22-9. doi: 10.1159/000330792. Epub 2012 Jun 1.

Evaluation of conventional Doppler fetal cardiac function parameters: E/A ratios, outflow tracts, and myocardial performance index.

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Direction of Clinical Research, National Institute of Perinatology, Mexico City, Mexico.


Structural evaluation of the fetal heart is well established. Functional evaluation using pulsed-wave Doppler may also be performed. E/A ratios express the relationship between the maximal velocities of the E and A waveforms of ventricular filling. In normal fetuses, E/A ratios are usually <1 but show a constant increment during gestation, mainly related to the increment of the E wave. In intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) fetuses, E/A ratios are lower compared to values in normally grown fetuses at the same gestational age. Cardiac outflows provide information on the time-velocity integral that, combined with the vessel area, allows calculation of the left and right cardiac outputs. In normal fetuses there is a predominance of the right ventricle (55-60%) in contributing to the combined cardiac output. In IUGR fetuses this predominance shifts to the left ventricle in order to increase the flow to the upper part of the fetal body and brain. The myocardial performance index (MPI) also provides information on systolic and diastolic cardiac function. The MPI is an early and consistent marker of cardiac dysfunction which becomes altered in early stages of chronic hypoxia or in cases with cardiac overload such as in twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

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