Isolated congenital atrioventricular block diagnosed in utero: natural history and outcome.J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2008 Jul; 21(7):469-76.JM
Isolated congenital atrioventricular block (CAVB) diagnosed in utero is associated with a high morbidity and mortality. Prognosis is especially poor when heart rate drops below 55 beats per minute (bpm) and when fetal hydrops develops. We describe the natural history and outcome of 24 infants with isolated CAVB diagnosed in utero, review the literature, and assess the risk factors that could predict outcome.
This was a retrospective multicenter study of 24 patients with isolated CAVB diagnosed in utero.
CAVB was detected at a mean gestational age (GA) of 24.7 +/- 5.1 weeks. Ten fetuses initially presented with complete heart block. Low heart rate or incomplete heart block was the first documentation of bradyarrhythmia in the other 14 fetuses. In 11 of them, CAVB developed during pregnancy after a median time of 3 (range 1-16) weeks. Fetal hydrops developed in 10 of 24 (42%) fetuses at a mean GA of 27.6 +/- 5.1 weeks. Hydropic fetuses showed lower heart rates during pregnancy (47 +/- 10 bpm) than non-hydropic fetuses (57 +/- 10 bpm). There were three intrauterine deaths; all were hydropic and female. Nine viable females and 12 males were born at a mean GA of 37.1 +/- 6.1 weeks with an average birth weight of 3097 +/- 852 g. Fifteen CAVB patients required pacemaker (PM) intervention, 10 of them immediately after birth. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) developed in three infants of whom two died of congestive heart failure, shortly after the diagnosis was made; one is still alive. Mortality before or after birth was 21%, and was associated with heart rates below 50 bpm and development of fetal hydrops. Poor outcome, defined as death, PM implantation, or development of DCM, occurred in 83% of cases and was associated with heart rates below 60 bpm during pregnancy.
Isolated CAVB diagnosed in utero is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Patients who develop fetal hydrops show lower heart rates during pregnancy than patients who do not. A fetal heart rate below 50 bpm and development of fetal hydrops is associated with increased mortality. Rates below 60 bpm are associated with PM requirement and/or DCM.