Journal of Clinical Medicine (Nov 2022)

Neuroimaging and Cerebrovascular Changes in Fetuses with Complex Congenital Heart Disease

  • Flaminia Vena,
  • Lucia Manganaro,
  • Valentina D’Ambrosio,
  • Luisa Masciullo,
  • Flavia Ventriglia,
  • Giada Ercolani,
  • Camilla Bertolini,
  • Carlo Catalano,
  • Daniele Di Mascio,
  • Elena D’Alberti,
  • Fabrizio Signore,
  • Antonio Pizzuti,
  • Antonella Giancotti

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 22
p. 6740


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Background: Congenital heart diseases (CHDs) are often associated with significant neurocognitive impairment and neurological delay. This study aims to elucidate the correlation between type of CHD and Doppler velocimetry and to investigate the possible presence of fetal brain abnormalities identified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Methods: From July 2010 to July 2020, we carried out a cross-sectional study of 63 singleton pregnancies with a diagnosis of different types of complex CHD: LSOL (left-sided obstructive lesions; RSOL (right-sided obstructive lesions) and MTC (mixed type of CHD). All patients underwent fetal echocardiography, ultrasound evaluation, a magnetic resonance of the fetal brain, and genetic counseling. Results: The analysis of 63 fetuses shows statistically significant results in Doppler velocimetry among the different CHD groups. The RSOL group leads to higher umbilical artery (UA-PI) pressure indexes values, whereas the LSOL group correlates with significantly lower values of the middle cerebral artery (MCA-PI) compared to the other subgroups (p = 0.036), whereas the RSOL group shows a tendency to higher pulsatility indexes in the umbilical artery (UA-PI). A significant correlation has been found between a reduced head circumference (HC) and the presence of brain injury at MRI (p = 0.003). Conclusions: Congenital left- and right-sided cardiac obstructive lesions are responsible for fetal hemodynamic changes and brain growth impairment. The correct evaluation of the central nervous system (CNS) in fetuses affected by CHD could be essential as prenatal screening and the prediction of postnatal abnormalities.