Applicability and technical aspects of two-dimensional ultrasonography for assessment of fetal heart function

Nathalie Jeanne Bravo-valenzuela, Alberto Borges Peixoto, Luciano Marcondes Nardozza, Alex Sandro Souza, Edward Araujo Júnior


In recent years, fetal echocardiography has been used for the screening and diagnosis of anatomical heart defects and for the detailed study of fetal cardiac function. This method is characterized by its easy implementation and good reproducibility, allowing the diagnosis of myocardial dysfunction even in its subclinical phase. The functional assessment of the fetal heart should be routinely performed in fetuses with congenital heart disease and those without anatomical malformation. Several extra-cardiac conditions may alter fetal cardiac function, by increased placental resistance, volume overload or hyperdynamic circulation, compression, or maternal systemic disease with involvement of the fetal myocardium. This review addresses the main ultrasound techniques and various Doppler echocardiographic parameters available for the analysis of fetal heart function, and correlates them with clinical applicability. Various parameters available for the assessment of fetal myocardium, including those that evaluate atrial dynamics, can be used in this analysis and should be selected considering specific conditions.


Fetal heart function, Two-dimensional ultrasonography, Color Doppler, M-mode, Tissue Doppler, Myocardial performance index.

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