Objective—To assess the degree of agreement between the fetal echocardiographic and postmortem examination of hearts from fetuses with severe malformations of the tricuspid valve.
Design—A retrospective study to analyse echocardiographic recordings and make comparisons with postmortem findings.
Setting—Tertiary referral centre for fetal echocardiography. Institute for cardiac morphology.
Patients—19 cases shown to have severe malformation of the tricuspid valve by fetal echocardiography that died in the prenatal or neonatal period.
Main outcome measures—Correlations between morphology and measurements made at echocardiography and necropsy.
Results—The echocardiographic diagnosis was Ebstein's malformation in seven and tricuspid valvar dysplasia in 12 fetuses. These findings were confirmed in six and eight cases at necropsy. In one false positive diagnosis of Ebstein's malformation, necropsy showed dysplasia of the leaflets of the tricuspid valve without displacement. In four cases with the echocardiographic diagnosis of valvar dysplasia, necropsy showed displacement, the hallmark of Ebstein's malformation. Associated malformations that are known to worsen prognosis were predicted correctly by echocardiography. Taking the mean duration of four weeks between echocardiographic and postmortem investigations, both methods showed cardiomegaly causing lung hypoplasia, right atrial dilatation, and relative hypoplasia of the pulmonary trunk, morphometric factors that may be responsible for the poor outcome. Mostly good agreement existed between the echocardiographic and postmortem measurements if cases with an interval of more than eight weeks between the measurements were excluded.
Conclusion Fetal echocardiography was proved to be a reliable technique in differentiating the variants of tricuspid valvar disease, in diagnosing associated cardiac lesions, and in predicting quantitative factors that can define the subsequent outcome.