Tricuspid valve disease with significant tricuspid insufficiency in the fetus: Diagnosis and outcome

Lisa K. Hornberger, David J. Sahn, Charles S. Kleinman, Joshua A. Copel, Kathryn L. Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


The echocardiographic studies and clinical course of 27 fetuses (mean gestationl age 26.9 weeks) diagnosed in utero with tricuspid valve disease and significant tricuspid regurgitation were reviewed. The diagnosis of Ebstein's anomaly was made in 17 of the fetuses, 7 had tricuspid valve dysplasia with poorly developed but normally attached leaflets and 2 had an unguarded tricuspid valve orifice with little or no identifiable tricuspid tissue. One fetus was excluded from data analysis because a more complex heart lesion was documented at autopsy. All fetuses had massive right atrial dilation and most who were serially studied had progressive right-sided cardiomegaly. Hydrops fetalis was found in six cases and atrial flutter in five. Associated cardiac lesions included pulmonary stenosis in five cases and pulmonary alresia in six. Four fetuses with normal forward pulmonary artery flow at the initial examination were found at subsequent study to have retrograde pulmonary artery and ductal flow in association with the development of pulmonary stenosis (n = 1) and pulmonary atresia (n = 3). On review of the clinical course of the 23 fetuses (excluding 3 with elective abortion), 48% of the fetuses died in utero and 35% who were liveborn died despite vigorous medical and, when necessary, surgical management, many of whom had severe congestive heart failure. Of the four infants who survived the neonatal period, three had a benign neonatal course, all of whom were diagnosed with mild to moderate Ebstein's anomaly; only one had pulmonary outflow obstruction. An additional finding at autopsy was significant lung hypoplasia documented in 10 of 19 autopsy reports. Tricuspid valve anomalies with tricuspid insufficiency can be identified echocardiographically in the fetus and should be searched for in the presence of right atrial enlargement. The prognosis for the fetus diagnosed in utero with significant tricuspid valve disease is extremely poor, with a prenatal course that includes progressive right heart dilation, with cardiac failure and lung hypoplasia in many and development of pulmonary stenose or pulmonary atresia later in gestation in some.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-173
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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