Factors influencing the prenatal detection of structural congenital heart diseases




To assess the factors influencing the prenatal detection rate of structural congenital heart diseases (CHDs).


A retrospective study was conducted at a major obstetric hospital in Australia between 1 January 1996 and 30 June 1999. The medical records of all fetuses and infants born with CHD, except those with isolated patent ductus arteriosus or secundum atrial septal defect, were reviewed. Only pregnancies that had prenatal ultrasound scan assessments for morphological surveys were included. The following factors that may influence the detection rate were assessed: complexity of the lesions; experience of the sonographers (performance in tertiary versus non-tertiary institutions); presence of other structural or chromosomal anomalies; and maternal body mass index (BMI).


The incidence of structural CHD in this series, excluding cases referred from other hospitals, was 7.0 per 1000 (179/25 529). Of the 179 pregnancies with CHD, 151 had prenatal ultrasound scans and were included in the study. The overall detection rate for CHDs in this series was 40.4%. The detection rate for isolated septal defects was poor (13.7%). The detection rates were significantly higher for complex lesions (54%), for lesions with concomitant septal defects (66.7%), and for lesions with abnormal four-chamber views (62.9%). The detection rate was also higher if the scan was performed in the tertiary institution, and if there were other chromosomal or structural anomalies. Maternal BMI did not affect the detection rate in the current series. Stepwise logistic regression analysis showed that three independent variables affecting the detection rate were complexity of the cardiac lesion, experience of the operator, and the detection of chromosomal anomalies.


A high detection rate for major CHDs can be achieved in a screening setting but there is still room for improvement in scanning skills in the four-chamber view and great-artery analysis in both tertiary and local centers. Copyright © 2002 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.