Severity of Fetal Brain Abnormalities in Congenital Heart Disease in Relation to the Main Expected Pattern of in utero Brain Blood Supply

Fetal Diagn Ther. 2016;39(4):269-78. doi: 10.1159/000439527. Epub 2015 Nov 28.


Objectives: We evaluated the hypothesis that in fetuses with congenital heart disease (CHD) there is a correlation between the expected pattern of in utero brain blood supply and the severity of neurodevelopmental impairment.

Methods: A total of 58 fetuses with CHD and 58 controls underwent a Doppler ultrasound and fetal MRI at 36-38 weeks. Fetuses with CHD were divided into two functional classes: class A with an expected severe reduction in oxygenated brain blood supply (left outflow tract obstruction and transposition of great vessels) and class B with theoretically near-normal or mildly impaired oxygenated brain blood supply (other CHD). Head biometry and cerebroplacental Doppler were assessed by ultrasound, and brain volumetry, cortical development and metabolism by MRI.

Results: Both class A and B CHD fetuses had significant differences in head biometry, brain perfusion, cortical development and brain metabolism compared with controls. However, there was a significant linear tendency for head biometry, cerebral Doppler, volumes, cortical sulcation and metabolic ratios across the three clinical groups, with signs of more severe brain alterations in type A CHD fetuses.

Conclusions: All fetuses with CHD showed significant brain developmental changes, but differences were more pronounced in CHD associated with an expected severe reduction in oxygenated blood supply to the brain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biometry
  • Brain / abnormalities*
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / embryology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Contraindications
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Spain