The influence of prenatal diagnosis on postnatal outcome in patients with structural congenital heart disease



Examination of the fetal heart has become an established part of mid-trimester anomaly scanning. Along side this has emerged the ability to diagnose congenital heart disease in the fetus with accuracy. Despite this, the development of screening programmes to look for fetal cardiac disease has only been partially successful. Furthermore, when detected, there seems to be little survival advantage associated with prenatal diagnosis. Demonstrating such an advantage is complicated by the nature of fetal cardiac disease, which tends to be severe and is often associated with extra-cardiac abnormalities. More selective studies, mostly involving small numbers of cases, are now beginning to demonstrate both improved survival and reduced morbidity in prenatally diagnosed infants presenting to cardiac intensive care units compared to those with a postnatal diagnosis. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.