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Home  >  Medical Research Archives  >  Issue 149  > A Brazilian Neonatal Unit's Experience with Functional Echocardiography and Diagnostic Findings in Congenital Heart Disease
Published in the Medical Research Archives
Feb 2024 Issue

A Brazilian Neonatal Unit's Experience with Functional Echocardiography and Diagnostic Findings in Congenital Heart Disease

Published on Feb 28, 2024




Introduction: The diagnosis of congenital heart diseases is a challenge for pediatricians due to the diversity of clinical presentations and symptoms, just like several other diseases prevalent in the neonatal period. Often the diagnosis is established during the gestation period, sometimes the hypothesis is formulated by neonatal screening. However, several cases will require clinical suspicion from the pediatrician. Given the possibility of this diagnosis, the evaluation of the infant cardiologist is essential. Unfortunately, this professional is not always readily available. In the intensive care units, health professionals use heart rate, blood pressure, capillary refill, urinary output and acid-base balance for hemodynamic analysis. These data are significant, but nonspecific. Thus, functional echocardiography can improve hemodynamic evaluation with positive impact on diagnosis. Our objective was to conduct a retrospective analysis of hospitalizations in a Brazilian neonatal unit, with the goal of identifying the diagnoses of congenital heart diseases made by a researcher using functional echocardiography, from July 2015 to September 2017, having as inclusion criteria; clinical manifestations of distress or respiratory failure, characterized by tachypnea, signs of dyspnea, need for oxygen therapy or ventilatory support and/or hemodynamic instability, characterized by tachycardia, cyanosis, cold extremities, prolonged capillary filling time, fine pulses and/or hypotension, low urinary output. Results: During the 26 months of the study, 362 neonates were hospitalized. Of these, 223 were included in the research for presenting cardiorespiratory manifestations. We observed three cases of obstructive shock related to cardiac tamponade, 18 cases of congenital heart disease, five cases of hypertrophic myocardiopathy, seven cases of myocardial dysfunction not related to structural heart disease, 46 cases of neonatal persistent pulmonary hypertension and 27 cases of patent ductus arteriosus (six with hemodynamics repercussion). Conclusions: The results showed functional and/or anatomical changes in 105 patients analyzed (46.7%), identified a diversity of structural cardiopathies, improved hemodynamic evaluation with impact on the therapeutic approach. While using functional echocardiography in neonates, clinicians should be aware that undiagnosed critical congenital heart defects can present during this period. They should acknowledge the limitations of skills, and it should not be used as a screening tool for diagnosing or excluding congenital heart defects. A patient with a suspected critical congenital heart defect should be quickly referred to a pediatric cardiologist, even if this implies out-of-hospital patient’s transportation. We assume that the systematic implementation of this technology by the medical team can improve diagnostic accuracy, which can positively impact the therapy used.

Keywords: Critical care, neonatology, ultrasonography, echocardiography, point-of-care systems, cardiac tamponade, hypertension pulmonary, heart defectal congenits.

Author info

Ronaldo Torres, Tiago Torres

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