Doppler echocardiographic and electrocardiographic atrioventricular time intervals in newborn infants: evaluation of techniques for surveillance of fetuses at risk for congenital heart block




To evaluate one novel and two previously reported Doppler flow velocimetric techniques to estimate atrioventricular (AV) time intervals, suggested to be useful for early identification of fetuses at risk for congenital heart block.


In 22 newborn infants, Doppler tracings were obtained from the mitral valve/aortic outflow and the superior vena cava/ascending aorta, as an ECG was recorded simultaneously. AV time intervals were measured using the onsets of the mitral A-wave/aortic outflow (MV-Ao), superior vena cava a-wave/aortic flow (SVC-Ao), and mitral A-wave/mitral valve closure (MV) as indirect markers of electrical atrial/ventricular activation.


Close positive linear relationships to the electrocardiographic PR interval were demonstrated for the MV-Ao (r = 0.82, Sy/x = 7.4 ms), SVC-Ao (r = 0.85, Sy/x = 6.8 ms), and MV (r = 0.92, Sy/x = 3.8 ms) approaches. Both techniques using the aortic flow to indicate ventricular activation overestimated the PR interval: the MV-Ao by + 32 ± 7.7 ms (mean ± SD) and the SVC-Ao approach by + 22 ± 7.0 ms. The new MV approach using mitral closure for the same purpose did not overestimate the PR interval, but there was a trend towards underestimation of the PR intervals as time intervals increased.


When systematic differences between echocardiographic and electrocardiographic AV time intervals are compensated for, all three techniques are useful to get indirect estimates of the PR interval. As MV recordings only need insonation of a single valve, and are thus easier to obtain, this technique may be of value as a first screening method to identify fetuses in need for further surveillance. In cases with AV time prolongation the SVC-Ao method seems superior. Copyright © 2006 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.