Supraventricular tachycardia was treated for the first time in 1980 by transplacental application of digitalis . In 1988, successful prenatal application of Flecaïne acetate in the case of supraventricular tachycardia was first time reported by Wren and Hunter. Favorable results and outcome were published by Allan in 1991 . In 1995, Wladimiroff et all reported that transplacental administration of the Flecaïne is associated with more rapid control of the arrhythmia and more frequent resolution of hydrops, compared with other drugs given by the transplacental route .
Supraventricular tachycardia can be a consequence of an automatic focus activity provoking the atrial contractions of higher rate than is the rate of sinoatrial node, or is a result of the re-entry mechanism, characterized by a circular electrical current running between the fast-conductive accessory pathways, ventricles, atrioventricular node and the atria in either direction. When the tachycardia is sustained, the diastole is shortened with decreasing atrial and ventricular filling time. This increases the systemic venous volume load and central venous pressure. Insufficient blood supply via the coronary arteries during diastole causes cardiac ischemia. The cardiac dilatation impairs contractility and the dilatation of the annulus fibrosus causes atrioventricular valve regurgitation. These factors result in the heart failure manifested by fetal hydrops.
Fetal tachycardia without other cardiac malformations can be observed during the second or the third trimester.
Implications for targeted examinations
Cardiac malformations must be eliminated by ultrasonography. Viral test are recommended.
Ventricular tachycardia , fetus with long QT syndrome, isolated extrasystoles.
Supraventricular tachycardia can result in impairment of cerebral vessel autoregulation and may interfere with brain oxygenation, producing brain edema, injury of the periventricular vessels and irreversible brain damage with periventricular leukomalacia, multicystic encephalomalacia and intraventricular hemorrhage. But there is a paucity of data regarding the neurological damage caused by supraventricular tachycardia and heart failure .
Supraventricular tachycardia is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. It can result in the fetal hemodynamic compromise and non-immune hydrops or even fetal death. If the fetal tachyarrhythmia is associated with hydrops, the mortality ranges from 20 to 50%, making rapid diagnosis and therapy imperative. Neurological morbidity has been linked to fetal tachycardia and is probably the result of dysfunction of cerebrovascular autoregulation in hemodynamically compromised fetuses.
Jouannic et al (2003) described the perinatal data of 66 fetuses with supraventricular tachycardia. Junctional tachycardia was found in 50 fetuses, atrial flutter was found in 16 fetuses and 26 fetuses were affected by hydrops. After first line therapy, the supraventricular tachycardia persisted in 10 fetuses. Psychological development was normal for all the children (age five), without one.
The optimal duration of treatment of prenatally diagnosed fetal supraventricular tachycardia remains undetermined. Postnatal recurrence of arrhythmia has been described in approximatively 50% of neonates. Some favor prophylactic continuation of the drugs during the first six to twelve month of life to prevent recurrence. According with Hansmann, in 10 to 20% of cases, supraventricular tachycardia will persist beyond the first year of life.
Treatment goals are cardioversion to sinus rhythm and reversal of cardiac dysfunction. Supraventricular tachycardia without hydrops is first treated pharmacologically in utero by giving digitalis to the mother. If digitalization does not achieve cardioversion, or if the fetal status continues to deteriorate, the drug should be withdrawn and alternative second-line drugs (such as quinidine, procainamide, verapamil and propanolol) are indicated. Flecaine has been described as highly effective medication even in hydropic fetuses, working efficiently, because it crosses the placenta rapidly, and reaching 80% of the maternal serum levels. Cessation of fetal supraventricular tachycardia after compression of umbilical cord has either been described by Pal et al .
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