Valvuloplasty in 103 fetuses with critical aortic stenosis: outcome and new predictors for postnatal circulation

Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2022 May;59(5):633-641. doi: 10.1002/uog.24792. Epub 2022 Apr 11.


Objectives: To review our experience with fetal aortic valvuloplasty (FAV) in fetuses with critical aortic stenosis (CAS) and evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome (eHLHS), including short- and medium-term postnatal outcome, and to refine selection criteria for FAV by identifying preprocedural predictors of biventricular (BV) outcome.

Methods: This was a retrospective review of all fetuses with CAS and eHLHS undergoing FAV at our center between December 2001 and September 2020. Echocardiograms and patient charts were analyzed for pre-FAV ventricular and valvular dimensions and hemodynamics and for postnatal procedures and outcomes. The primary endpoints were type of circulation 28 days after birth and at 1 year of age. Classification and regression-tree analysis was performed to investigate the predictive capacity of pre-FAV parameters for BV circulation at 1 year of age.

Results: During the study period, 103 fetuses underwent 125 FAVs at our center, of which 87.4% had a technically successful procedure. Technical success per fetus was higher in the more recent period (from 2014) than in the earlier period (96.2% (51/53) vs 78.0% (39/50); P = 0.0068). Eighty fetuses were liveborn after successful intervention and received further treatment. BV outcome at 1 year of age was achieved in 55% of liveborn patients in our cohort after successful FAV, which is significantly higher than the BV-outcome rate (23.7%) in a previously published natural history cohort fulfilling the same criteria for eHLHS (P = 0.0015). Decision-tree analysis based on the ratio of right to left ventricular (RV/LV) length combined with LV pressure (mitral valve regurgitation maximum velocity (MR-Vmax)) had a sensitivity of 96.97% and a specificity of 94.44% for predicting BV outcome without signs of pulmonary arterial hypertension at 1 year of age. The highest probability for a BV outcome was reached for fetuses with a pre-FAV RV/LV length ratio of < 1.094 (96.4%) and for those fetuses with a RV/LV length ratio ≥ 1.094 to < 1.135 combined with a MR-Vmax of ≥ 3.14 m/s (100%).

Conclusions: FAV could be performed with high success rates and an acceptable risk with improving results after a learning curve. Pre-FAV RV/LV length ratio combined with LV pressure estimates were able to predict a successful BV outcome at 1 year of age with high sensitivity and specificity. © 2022 The Authors. Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Keywords: congenital heart disease; critical aortic stenosis; evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome; fetal cardiac intervention; fetal cardiology.

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Valve Stenosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Valve Stenosis* / surgery
  • Balloon Valvuloplasty* / methods
  • Female
  • Fetal Heart / diagnostic imaging
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal