Evaluation of normal fetal pulmonary veins using B-flow imaging with spatiotemporal image correlation and by traditional color Doppler echocardiography

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The purpose of our report is to evaluate the use of color Doppler echocardiography (CDE) with four chamber view (4CV), scanning around left atrium, and four-dimensional echocardiography with B-flow imaging and spatiotemporal image correlation (4D BF-STIC) in detecting fetal pulmonary veins at 17 to 40 weeks' gestation.


This was a prospective study. Color Doppler echocardiography with 4CV, scanning around left atrium, and 4D BF-STIC were used to detect the pulmonary veins in 460 normal fetuses at 17 to 40 weeks of gestation. Routine prenatal screening was used to confirm that the fetuses were in good health with no cardiac or extra cardiac anomalies. All patients underwent follow up at one year. Twenty-two patients were excluded from the study. The number of pulmonary veins visualized using each method was recorded and then compared in six subgroups according to gestational age.


Four-dimensional echocardiography with B-flow imaging and spatiotemporal image correlation was the best method to detect the greatest number of pulmonary veins between 17 and 31 weeks of gestation. Scanning around left atrium detected more pulmonary veins than the traditional 4CV method throughout the gestational period.


The scanning around left atrium method proved to be the most suited for detecting pulmonary veins in clinical practice. 4D BF-STIC was superior in detecting the greatest number of pulmonary veins before 32 gestational weeks, but had limited clinical usage because it was very time-consuming and experience-dependent. The 4D method should be considered as a complement to traditional two-dimensional sonography, because it facilitates understanding of the anatomy and the spatial relationships of the cardiac structures. © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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