Cardiac function and morphology studied by two-dimensional Doppler echocardiography in unsedated newborn pigs

Exp Physiol. 1999 Jan;84(1):69-78. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-445x.1999.tb00073.x.


The newborn pig is currently the most used species in animal neonatal research. Valid non-invasive monitoring is important in particular for long-term survival of unsedated animals. In the unsedated newborn pig (n = 35, median age 24 h, range 7-48 h) we standardized two-dimensional Doppler echocardiography and determined the normal ranges for cardiac function. Probe positioning had to be adjusted to the V-shaped thorax and the mid-line position of the heart. Six out of the sixteen animals < 20 h had a patent ductus arteriosus compared with one of the twenty animals > 20 h old. One atrial septal defect (5 mm) and one small ventricular septal defect were diagnosed. The average heart size was 0.7-0.9% of body weight which is similar to human infants of the same size. The mean aortic diameter was 6.0 +/- 0.5 mm (mean +/- S.D.) and cardiac output was 0.38 +/- 0.08 l min-1; both correlate with body weight (r = 0.80 and 0.73, respectively). Tricuspid regurgitation velocity was 3.0 +/- 0.4 m s-1 (mean +/- S.D.), giving an estimated pressure gradient across the tricuspid valve of 37 +/- 9.7 mmHg. The aortic diameter and the heart weight per kg body weight are comparable to those reported for preterm neonates. The cardiac output and velocities across the four valves are more comparable with term neonates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / anatomy & histology*
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology*
  • Aorta / diagnostic imaging
  • Blood Flow Velocity / physiology
  • Cardiac Output / physiology
  • Ductus Arteriosus, Patent / diagnostic imaging
  • Echocardiography*
  • Female
  • Heart / anatomy & histology
  • Heart / physiology*
  • Heart Septal Defects, Atrial / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Septal Defects, Ventricular / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Organ Size / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Swine / anatomy & histology*
  • Swine / physiology*
  • Tricuspid Valve Insufficiency / diagnostic imaging
  • Tricuspid Valve Insufficiency / physiopathology