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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2015 Jan;28(1):7-11. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2014.899573. Epub 2014 Apr 9.

Clinical examination and pulse oximetry as screening for congenital heart disease in low-risk newborn.

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Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart , Rome , Italy.



To assess sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of the cardiovascular physical examination (CPE) and of pulse oximetry in screening for congenital heart diseases (CHD) in asymptomatic newborn when prenatal ultrasound evaluation is negative for structural cardiac abnormalities.


In this observational cohort study, 5750 asymptomatic newborns, admitted to nursery in a period of 2 years, underwent to CPE and determination of arterial oxygen saturation by pulse oxymetry between 48th and 72nd h of life.


Two hundred and ninty-eight newborns presented a suspected CPE; in 70% of cases, we found a transitional alteration and in only 17% of cases, the echocardiography examination performed for suspected CPE were completely negative. Three newborns were positive to pulse oximetry screening test but negative at CPE. After discharge, one case of critical CHD was diagnosed.


An accurate CPE performed by trained and experienced pediatricians is indicative of important cardiac structural alteration in more than 25%. The association of CPE and pulse oximetry allows to further improve the diagnostic accuracy.


Congenital heart diseases; early diagnosis; neonatal heart; neonatal outcome; pulse oximetry screening

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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