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Assessment of Cardiac Rate and Rhythm in Fetuses with Arrhythmia via Maternal Abdominal Fetal Electrocardiography

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      Objective This study aims to report our experience using the Monica AN24 (Monica Healthcare Ltd., Nottingham, United Kingdom), a maternal transabdominal fetal electrocardiographic monitor, in a case series of fetuses with arrhythmias. Study Design We recorded fetal electrocardiograms (fECGs) on subjects with fetal arrhythmias diagnosed by fetal echocardiogram. Fetal heart rate and rhythm were determined via manual fECG analysis. Results Overall, 20 fECGs were recorded from a pool of 13 subjects. Fetal heart rate acquisition was determined to be high, medium, and poor quality in 10, 3, and 7 tracings, respectively. High-quality tracings were obtained in 9 of 11 subjects with gestational age < 26 or > 34 weeks. P waves were detectable in five tracings. Conclusion In subjects < 26 or > 34 weeks' gestational age, there was reasonable success in fetal heart rate acquisition. Further study is warranted to determine the potential role of this device in the monitoring of subjects with fetal arrhythmias.

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      Most cited references 16

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      Fetal electrocardiography: feasibility of long-term fetal heart rate recordings.

      The feasibility and accuracy of long-term transabdominal fetal electrocardiogram (fECG) recordings throughout pregnancy were studied using a portable fECG monitor. Fifteen-hour recordings of fetal heart rate (FHR) were performed in 150 pregnant women at 20-40 weeks of gestation and 1-hour recordings were performed in 22 women in labour and compared with simultaneous scalp electrode recordings. When >or=60% of fECG signals was present, the recording was defined as good. Eighty-two percent (123/150) of antenatal recordings were of good quality. This percentage increased to 90.7 (136/150 recordings) when only the night part (11 p.m.-7 a.m.) was considered. Transabdominal measurement of FHR and its variability correlated well with scalp electrode recordings (r=0.99, P<0.01; r=0.79, P<0.01, respectively). We demonstrated the feasibility and accuracy of long-term transabdominal fECG monitoring.
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        Fetal arrhythmia: prenatal diagnosis and perinatal management.

         Y Maeno,  A Hirose,  T Kanbe (2009)
        The importance of managing fetal arrhythmia has increased over the past three decades. Although most fetal arrhythmias are benign, some types cause fetal hydrops and can lead to fetal death. With the aim of improving the outcome in such cases, various studies for prenatal diagnosis and perinatal management have been published. Detailed analysis of the type of arrhythmia in utero is possible using M-mode and Doppler echocardiography. In particular, a simultaneous record of Doppler waveform at the superior venous cava and the ascending aorta has become an important and useful method of assessing the interval between atrial and ventricular contractions. Common causes of fetal tachycardia (ventricular heart rate faster than 180 bpm), are paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) with 1:1 atrioventricular (AV) relation and atrial flutter with 2:1 AV relation. Of fetal SVT, short ventriculo-atrial (VA) interval tachycardia due to atrioventricular reentrant tachycardia is more common than long VA interval. Most fetuses with tachycardia are successfully treated in utero by transplacental administration of antiarrhythmic drugs. Digoxin is widely accepted as a first-line antiarrhythmic drug. Sotalol, flecainide and amiodarone are used as second-line drugs when digoxin fails to achieve conversion to sinus rhythm. Fetal bradycardia is diagnosed when the fetal ventricular heart rate is slower than 100 bpm, mainly due to AV block. Approximately half of all cases are caused by associated congenital heart disease, and the remaining cases that have normal cardiac structure are often caused by maternal SS-A antibody. The efficacy of prenatal treatment for fetal AV block is limited compared with treatment for fetal tachycardia. Beta stimulants and steroids have been reported as effective transplacental treatments for fetal AV block. Perinatal management based on prospective clinical study protocol rather than individual experience is crucial for further improvement of outcome in fetuses with tachycardia and bradycardia.
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          Non-invasive fetal electrocardiography in singleton and multiple pregnancies.

          To document the duration of fetal cardiac time intervals in uncomplicated singleton pregnancies using a novel non-invasive fetal electrocardiography (fECG) system and to demonstrate this technique's ability to acquire recordings in twin and triplet pregnancies. Prospective cross sectional observational study. Antenatal wards and clinics, day assessment unit and centre for fetal care at a tertiary referral hospital, London, UK. Three hundred and four singleton and multiple pregnancies, 15-41 weeks of gestation. Using electrodes sited on the maternal abdomen, a fetal electrocardiography (fECG) system was developed and tested on 304 pregnant women from 15 to 41 weeks of gestation, of whom 241 were uncomplicated singletons, 58 had twin and 5 had triplet pregnancies. The composite abdominal signals were stored on a laptop computer and the fECG derived off-line using a digital signal processing technique. For singletons, linear regression was used to analyse PR, QRS, QT and QTc intervals, and construct time-specific reference ranges. Duration of fECG time intervals as a function of gestational age. Success of signal separation in singleton, twin and triplet pregnancies. For singletons, a total of 250 recordings was obtained from 241 individuals with a signal separation success rate of 85% (213/250). Success rates were significantly poorer between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation (2 x k chi(2), P < 0.0001), with 84% (31/37) of separation failures occurring during this period. P, Q, R and S waves were seen in all cases where fetal signals were separated and were used to generate fECG time interval reference ranges. In 22% (43/199) of analysed cases, no T waves were identified, 63% (27/43) of whom were < or =24 weeks of gestation. In twins and triplets, separate fetal signals were obtained in 78% (91/116) and 93% (14/15), respectively; P, Q, R and S waves were evident in all averaged fECGs, while T waves were identified in 59% (54/91) and 57% (8/14). This study provides reference ranges with gestation for fECG intervals derived non-invasively from normal singleton pregnancies and demonstrates the feasibility of obtaining complete fECG recordings non-invasively across a wide gestational range in pregnancies of all pluralities. The fECG time intervals described will enable the identification of pathological fECG recordings from high risk pregnancies where fECG abnormalities are suspected.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Division of Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
            [2 ]Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
            [3 ]Department of Developmental Neuroscience, Columbia University Medical Center, Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology, New York, New York
            [4 ]Division of Pediatric Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York
            Author notes
            Address for correspondence Hari K. Narayan, MD Division of Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia 8NW-25, 3401 Civic Center BlvdPhiladelphia, PA 19104 narayanh@
            AJP Rep
            AJP Rep
            AJP Reports
            Thieme Medical Publishers (333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. )
            09 September 2015
            October 2015
            : 5
            : 2
            : e176-e182
            © Thieme Medical Publishers


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