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Keywords:

  • Arrhythmia;
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia;
  • Ultrasonography;
  • Fetal;
  • Encephalomalacia

Abstract

Background

Fetal tachyarrhythmia is a well-documented entity which, in the absence of pharmacological intervention, may lead to congestive heart failure, fetal hydrops and eventually fetal demise. The success rate of the implemented treatment is generally measured by survival and achievement of control of the arrhythmia. We report on the occurrence of associated cerebral damage in three patients with fetal tachycardia.

Methods

We describe three patients with a history of fetal supraventricular tachyarrhythmia who developed cerebral complications.

Results

Two patients had cerebral hypoxic-ischemic lesions and one had hemorrhagic lesions present at birth. They had developed severe congestive heart failure and fetal hydrops secondary to fetal tachyarrhythmia, and there were no other obvious causes for the cerebral pathology. Two of these patients were referred to us antenatally. Therapy was instituted and resulted in control of the tachycardia and resolution of hydrops. The third patient was referred to our clinic shortly after birth because of severe circulatory problems secondary to fetal tachyarrhythmia.

Conclusion

From these observations, we believe that a fetus with tachyarrhythmia and subsequent hydrops is at increased risk for the development of cerebral complications, due to the circulatory disturbances and sudden changes in heart rate which may lead to fluctuations in cerebral perfusion. This would imply that it is of the utmost importance to aim at immediate and complete control of the heart rate in the treatment of fetal tachyarrhythmia. Copyright © 1999 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology