Objective: To evaluate fetal myocardial movement by using newly developed ultrasonic technique. Methods: We analyzed 50 normal fetuses between 25 and 41 weeks' gestation for changes in thickness of fetal myocardium using the phased-tracking method, a technique with high vertical distance resolution and the potential to evaluate fine ventricular wall movements. We analyzed differences in the rate of change in ventricular wall thickness and in changes in the inner and outer wall layers with advancing gestation. We also analyzed myocardial thickening period and evaluated the ratio of increasing thickness period to stroke interval. Results: Mean thickness changing rate was significantly higher in the right (1.18 ± 0.34 m/s/m) than in the left ventricular wall (0.86 ± 0.31 m/s/m) (p < 0.001). Mean ratio of increasing thickness period to stroke interval was significantly higher in the right (0.57 ± 0.064) than in the left ventricle (0.46 ± 0.075) (p < 0.001), indicating that myocardial contraction in the fetal right ventricle predominates. The thickness-changing rate of the bilateral ventricular walls was positively and linearly correlated with gestational age. The myocardial-wall thickness-changing rate was higher in the outer layer than in the inner layer in late gestation. Conclusions: We conclude that measurement of the thickness-changing rate of fetal ventricular walls using the phased-tracking method might be useful for evaluation of fetal cardiac function.
- Heart failure
- Myocardial contraction