Fetal cardiac malposition: incidence and outcome of associated cardiac and extracardiac malformations

Am J Perinatol. 2008 May;25(5):277-81. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1066874. Epub 2008 Apr 9.


Cardiac malposition is a rare but important finding when detected on fetal ultrasound. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence of fetal cardiac malposition, associated abnormalities, and clinical outcome in a tertiary-care medical center. Records of fetuses (1993 to 2006) with dextroposition, dextrocardia, mesocardia, ectopia cordis, or heterotaxy were reviewed. The presence of congenital heart disease (CHD), extracardiac anomalies, and outcome were noted. Cardiac malposition was present in 101 fetuses among a total of 3313 (3%) pregnancies. In 78 (78%) patients, the heart was positioned in the right hemithorax. Of those, 26 (33%) had dextrocardia (CHD = 21), and 52 (67%) had dextroposition (CHD = 14). Sixteen (16%) patients had mesocardia (CHD = 8), and 7 (7%) had ectopia cordis (CHD = 6). The majority (58%) of fetal cardiac malposition was caused by intrathoracic masses. Concomitant CHD occurred in 50%. Outcome was available in 97%. The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate was 30%; the elective termination rate was 4%. Patients with CHD had higher mortality rates. The highest mortality rates occurred in ectopia cordis and combined disease of diaphragmatic hernia and CHD.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Eugenic
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Diseases / mortality
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / mortality
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / complications
  • Hernia, Umbilical / complications
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal