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Title: Brain growth and development in fetuses with congenital heart disease
Author: Jowett, Victoria Charlotte
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 1456
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2017
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Introduction and Objectives: In the current era of excellent surgical results for congenital heart disease (CHD), focus has become directed on quality of life for these children. Previous studies have shown that neurodevelopmental outcome in CHD is impaired. The mechanisms are incompletely understood but there is increasing evidence that the origins of this are in fetal life. This thesis aims to describe the in utero brain growth in a cohort of fetuses with CHD and relate this to the circulatory abnormalities and fetal Doppler parameters. Methods: Pregnant women with a fetus with CHD were prospectively recruited. The congenital heart defect was phenotyped using fetal echocardiography and patients subdivided into three physiological groups on the basis of the anticipated abnormality of cerebral blood flow and oxygen delivery: (1) isolated reduced flow to the brain; 2) reduced oxygen saturation of cerebral blood flow; (3) combination of reduced oxygen and flow. Fetal brain MRI was performed. In addition to standard biometric measurements, snapshot to volume reconstruction (SVR) was used to construct a 3D data set from the oversampled raw data. From these 3D volumes the total brain volume and ventricular volumes were measured by manual segmentation. Serial measurements of fetal growth were also made and umbilical artery and middle cerebral artery Doppler parameters were analysed. Results: 29 women were included; comparison was made with 83 normal MRI controls. Fetuses with CHD were found to have smaller brain volumes compared to controls when adjusting for advancing gestation (p < 0.01). This difference becomes more pronounced with advancing gestation, suggesting a slower rate of in utero brain growth. Measurements of growth found that the fetuses with CHD were smaller throughout gestation with a highly significant difference at the later growth scan. (p < 0.001). Cerebral and umbilical artery Doppler data showed evidence of reduced cerebrovascular resistance in fetuses with CHD but did not show a difference in the umbilical artery Doppler. Conclusion: Fetuses with CHD have evidence of impaired brain growth with advancing pregnancy and an increased rate of overall growth restriction. Doppler evidence of cerebral vasodilation supports the mechanism of reduced oxygen delivery as an underlying cause.
Supervisor: Lees, Christoph ; Rutherford, Mary ; Gardiner, Helena Sponsor: Wiseman Trust ; Tiny Tickers
Qualification Name: Thesis (M.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral