Objective: To evaluate intra- and interobserver agreement for first-trimester fetal cardiac structural assessment, using two-dimensional (2D) ultrasound (2D-US) and 4D-US (4D spatiotemporal image correlation (STIC) technology), to compare the methods and to assess the advantages of adding color Doppler to each technique.
Methods: Digital videoclips (B-mode and color Doppler) and 4D-STIC volumes (gray-scale and color Doppler) from 632 pregnancies with normal fetal hearts were acquired and stored at the time of detailed first-trimester ultrasound examination. Later analysis on a randomized sample of 100 cases was performed, targeting 11 cardiac structures and features. We compared visualization of fetal heart parameters using 2D-US vs 4D-US and gray-scale vs color Doppler imaging.
Results: STIC volumes were considered satisfactory (adequate visualization of at least 8/11 parameters) in 78% of cases and 2D-US acquisitions in 89% of cases. The intra- and interobserver agreement was good for both 2D and 4D methods (kappa > 0.6), and the percentage overall agreement was very high using both methods (95%). 2D- and 4D-US identification of the fetal cardiac parameters did not differ significantly. The differences between gray-scale and color Doppler imaging were statistically significant in identifying similar key cardiac parameters, for both 2D- and 4D-US (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Both 2D and 4D methods for assessing first-trimester heart parameters are feasible and repeatable within and between observers. Color Doppler adds valuable information to both methods.
Keywords: STIC; color Doppler; fetal heart; first trimester of pregnancy; interobserver agreement; intraobserver agreement; spatiotemporal image correlation.
Copyright © 2013 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.