Oxygen supply to the fetal cerebral circulation in hypoplastic left heart syndrome: a simulation study based on the theoretical models of fetal circulation

Pediatr Cardiol. 2015 Mar;36(3):677-84. doi: 10.1007/s00246-014-1064-6. Epub 2014 Nov 15.


Hypoxia due to congenital heart diseases (CHDs) adversely affects brain development during the fetal period. Head circumference at birth is closely associated with neuropsychiatric development, and it is considerably smaller in newborns with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) than in normal newborns. We performed simulation studies on newborns with CHD to evaluate the cerebral circulation during the fetal period. The oxygen saturation of cerebral blood flow in newborns with CHD was simulated according to a model for normal fetal circulation in late pregnancy. We compared the oxygen saturation of cerebral blood flow between newborns with tricuspid atresia (TA; a disease showing univentricular circulation and hypoplasia of the right ventricle), those with transposition of the great arteries (TGA; a disease showing abnormal mixing of arterial and venous blood), and those with HLHS. The oxygen saturation of cerebral blood flow in newborns with normal circulation was 75.7 %, whereas it was low (49.5 %) in both newborns with HLHS and those with TA. Although the oxygen level is affected by the blood flow through the foramen ovale, the oxygen saturation in newborns with TGA was even lower (43.2 %). These data, together with previous reports, suggest that the cerebral blood flow rate is decreased in newborns with HLHS, and the main cause was strongly suspected to be retrograde cerebral perfusion through a patent ductus arteriosus. This study provides important information about the neurodevelopmental prognosis of newborns with HLHS and suggests the need to identify strategies to resolve this unfavorable cerebral circulatory state in utero.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Female
  • Fetus / abnormalities*
  • Fetus / metabolism*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Transposition of Great Vessels / metabolism
  • Tricuspid Atresia / metabolism


  • Oxygen