Critical congenital heart disease screening by pulse oximetry in a neonatal intensive care unit

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Critical congenital heart disease (CCHD) screening is effective in asymptomatic late preterm and term newborn infants with a low false-positive rate (0.035%). (1) To compare 2817 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) discharges before and after implementation of CCHD screening; and (2) to evaluate CCHD screening at < 35 weeks gestation.


Collection of results of CCHD screening including pre- and postductal pulse oximetry oxygen saturation (SpO2) values.


During the pre-CCHD screen period, 1247 infants were discharged from the NICU and one case of CCHD was missed. After 1 March 2012, 1508 CCHD screens were performed among 1570 discharges and no CCHDs were missed. The pre- and postductal SpO2 values were 98.8 ± 1.4% and 99 ± 1.3%, respectively, in preterm and 98.9 ± 1.3% and 98.9 ± 1.4%, respectively, in term infants. Ten infants had false-positive screens (10/1508 = 0.66%).


Performing universal screening in the NICU is feasible but is associated with a higher false-positive rate compared with asymptomatic newborn infants.

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