Fetal echocardiography. A tool for evaluation of in utero cardiac arrhythmias and monitoring of in utero therapy: analysis of 71 patients

Am J Cardiol. 1983 Jan 15;51(2):237-43. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(83)80042-3.


Fetal echocardiographic studies were performed in 71 patients referred for evaluation of cardiac rhythm disturbances at 24 to 40 weeks' gestation. After 2-dimensional echocardiographic study of cardiac structure was performed, M-mode echocardiograms were analyzed for measurement of cardiac rate, atrioventricular contraction sequence, atrioventricular valve motion, and duration of postectopic pauses. Arrhythmias were diagnosed in 59 patients. In 34 patients with isolated ectopic beats, the arrhythmia resolved during later pregnancy in 26 or within the first 5 days of life in 8. Six patients had mild sinus bradycardia and 8 had frequent sinus pauses; all 14 had resolution of the arrhythmia during pregnancy. Sustained arrhythmias occurred in 11 patients. Deaths occurred when there was associated fetal congestive heart failure (hydrops fetalis), structural heart disease, or both. M-mode echocardiography diagnosed supraventricular tachycardia in 3 fetuses. The echocardiogram was used thereafter for monitoring transplacental digoxin therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / drug therapy
  • Echocardiography*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Fetal Diseases / drug therapy
  • Fetal Heart*
  • Fetal Monitoring
  • Gestational Age
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents