In patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) premature closure or restriction of the interatrial communication causes severe cyanosis directly after birth with rapid deterioration in clinical state. An ex-utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT) procedure, extracorporal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), and emergency interventional cardiac catheterization or cardiac surgery has to be anticipated and prepared. We report the first case performing foetal atrial septum stenting in such a patient directly before birth to enable uncomplicated interatrial shunting postnatally.
A 31-year-old pregnant woman was referred to our centre for further evaluation of the foetus due to HLHS. In the follow-up study before birth severe restriction of the foramen ovale with increased retrograde flow in the pulmonary veins [0.33 ratio antegrade/retrograde time velocity integral (TVI)] was detected. After careful consideration foetal atrial septum stenting was performed at 38 + 3 weeks of gestation. At 39 + 2 weeks of gestation the baby was born by caesarean section followed by an uncomplicated postnatal adaption. On the 7th day of life a Norwood procedure was performed and the baby was discharged on the 63rd postoperative day.
Evaluation of the interatrial communication in foetuses with HLHS should be done carefully just before birth. In the case of severe restriction or closure of the foramen ovale atrial septum stenting just before birth can be considered as an alternative treatment to an EXIT procedure, ECMO, or emergency atrioseptectomy on bypass. However, a very experienced team of paediatric cardiologists and perinatologists with expertise in foetal cardiac interventions is needed to perform this technical difficult procedure.