Prenatal Diagnosis and Management of Single-Ventricle Heart Disease

Can J Cardiol. 2022 Jul;38(7):897-908. doi: 10.1016/j.cjca.2022.04.003. Epub 2022 Apr 13.


In the current era, most single-ventricle heart disease (SVHD) is diagnosed prenatally by means of fetal echocardiography. Disparities exist, however, by socioeconomic status and remote location, which require further attention. Prenatal diagnosis affords the opportunity to counsel expectant parents regarding the life-long course of children with SVHD, including the stages of single-ventricle palliation and challenges of the Fontan circulation; to discuss pregnancy management options; and to optimise delivery planning and perinatal care. Prognosis may be refined by specific features on the fetal echocardiogram, such as ventricular morphology, total anomalous pulmonary venous return, and atrioventricular valve regurgitation. Expectant mothers should be referred for evaluation of extracardiac anomalies and/or a genetic syndrome, which also significantly affect outcome. Fetuses with SVHD should be cared for by a multidisciplinary team and ideally delivered at term at or near a cardiac surgical center. Serial echocardiograms refine the anticipated postnatal physiology to optimise transitional care, including the need for prostaglandin or urgent atrial septal intervention in fetuses with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. In selected patients, there may be a role for fetal cardiac intervention to improve mortality or achieve a biventricular circulation after birth. Together, these strategies enhance the preoperative status of the neonate. Recent advances in fetal cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging have focused on studying the relationships between cardiovascular physiology and fetal growth and development. These novel techniques allow for the exploration of the physiologic effects of SVHD on the brain and open avenues for the investigation of neuroprotective therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Fetal Heart
  • Fetus
  • Fontan Procedure*
  • Humans
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome* / surgery
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal