A novel way of visualizing the ductal and aortic arches by real-time three-dimensional ultrasound with live xPlane imaging

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To describe a novel method of visualizing the ductal and aortic arches by real-time three-dimensional echocardiography with live xPlane imaging.


Live xPlane imaging was used to display the ductal- and aortic-arch views in 107 women with singleton pregnancies, including seven cases with suspected congenital heart defects (CHDs). The three vessels and trachea (3VT) view was obtained in such an orientation that either the pulmonary artery or the aorta was parallel to the direction of the ultrasound beam. The xPlane reference line was then placed across the targeted vessel, which in a normal case would provide an image of the corresponding arch view as a dual-image display.


Once the 3VT view had been obtained, live xPlane imaging showed the aortic and ductal arches in all 100 normal cases. In seven cases with suspected CHD, the 3VT view was abnormal in five cases and normal in the other two. However, the ductal-arch view demonstrated by live xPlane imaging was abnormal in five cases of conotruncal anomalies and normal in two cases in which conotruncal anomalies were excluded. CHDs were confirmed at autopsy following termination of pregnancy in five cases and on postnatal echocardiography in one case. The heart was found postnatally to be normal in one case of suspected CHD; in this case live xPlane imaging showed that the observed abnormal 3VT view was caused by a tortuous course of the thoracic aorta associated with an abnormal diaphragm.


Live xPlane imaging is a novel and relatively simple method of visualizing the ductal- and aortic-arch views, and may potentially be a useful tool in the screening of fetal conotruncal and aortic-arch anomalies. Copyright © 2012 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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