• 3D rendering;
  • congenital heart disease;
  • fetal heart;
  • great vessels;
  • IAS;
  • interatrial septum;
  • interventricular septum;
  • IVS;
  • prenatal diagnosis;
  • STIC



In this study we aimed to apply spatio-temporal image correlation (STIC) rendering to visualize the virtual planes of the interventricular and interatrial septa (IVS, IAS) as well as the atrioventricular (AV) annuli plane just distal to the semilunar valves (coronal atrioventricular (CAV) plane) in normal and pathological fetal hearts, to ascertain whether these planes add to fetal cardiac examination.


Unselected gravidae presenting for anatomy scan or patients referred for fetal echocardiography in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy with suspected or diagnosed cardiac malformation were scanned using the five planes technique with the STIC modality to obtain cardiac volume sets for each patient. Rendering capabilities were employed to obtain the ‘virtual planes’ to evaluate the IVS, IAS, AV annuli, and size and alignment of the great vessels.


A total of 136 normal scans were performed to establish a learning curve for STIC acquisition and post-processing rendering and analysis. An additional 35 cases with cardiac anomalies were accrued. In 131/136 (96.3%) normal scans the IAS and IVS were visualized successfully, while in 127/136 (93.4%) normal fetuses the CAV plane was successfully visualized. In 13 anomalous cases the IVS plane improved ventricular septal defect (VSD) evaluation, and in four the IAS plane contributed to foramen ovale evaluation. The modality improved visualization of the septa and the assessment of the defects, as well as the foramen ovale flap and pattern of movement of the foramen ovale. In five cases the CAV plane improved evaluation of the alignment of the major vessels in relation to the AV annuli, and in three the evaluation of the semilunar valves, with or without malalignment of the great vessels.


Rendering STIC technology allows the visualization of virtual planes (IAS, IVS, AV annuli–CAV plane), which can clarify our understanding of anatomical defects and may improve communication with the management team and family. Copyright © 2006 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.