Predicting Cardiac Anatomy, Physiology, and Surgical Management Based on Fetal Echocardiography in Heterotaxy Syndrome

Jennifer Romanowicz, Pranava Sinha, Mary T. Donofrio, David N. Schidlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Heterotaxy syndrome (HS) is often associated with complex congenital heart disease (CHD). While fetal echocardiography (FE) permits accurate prenatal identification of most CHD, the high level of disease complexity in HS may pose challenges in predicting postnatal findings and outcomes. This study aimed to define the accuracy of FE in predicting postnatal anatomy, physiology, and surgical management of CHD in the setting of HS. Study Design Retrospective single-center cohort study including all patients with a prenatal diagnosis of HS from 2003 to 2018. Anatomic diagnoses from FE reports were compared with postnatal echocardiogram, catheterization, and operative reports. Prenatal predictions were compared with postnatal outcomes with a focus on ductal dependence, time to first intervention (immediate, neonatal period, 1-6 months, or older than 6 months), and surgical approach (single or biventricular). Results There were 102 pregnancies with fetal HS resulting in 21 terminations, 5 fetal losses, and 76 live births. Of the live births, 55 had significant CHD and available postnatal data for review. Among this group, survival to 1 year was 62% and was no different comparing single versus biventricular surgical approach. FE diagnostic accuracy varied by anatomic feature and was the lowest for diagnosis of venous anatomy. Determination of postnatal care was most accurate for predicting single versus biventricular surgical approach (91%), followed by ductal dependence (75%). Accuracy for predicting time to first intervention was the lowest at 69%. The most common reason for an incorrect prediction was difficulty in assessing the severity of pulmonary stenosis. Conclusion FE permits accurate predictions regarding surgical approach. Characterizing systemic and pulmonary veins is challenging, as is predicting ductal dependence and time to first intervention. These data suggest that despite the high diagnostic accuracy of CHD in HS, a circumspect approach may be reasonable with regard to predicting some anatomic details and postnatal management decisions. Key Points In HS, FE was most accurate for intracardiac anatomy. Diagnostic accuracy of venous anatomy was less reliable. Predicting surgical approach (single ventricle vs. biventricular) was highly accurate. Predicting ductal dependence and time-to-intervention were more challenging in some instances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved.


  • congenital heart disease
  • fetal echocardiography
  • heterotaxy syndrome
  • postnatal outcomes
  • prenatal counseling

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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