Untreated isolated fetal complete atrioventricular block (CAVB) has a significant mortality rate. A standardized treatment approach, including maternal dexamethasone at CAVB diagnosis and beta-stimulation for fetal heart rates <55 bpm, has been used at our institutions since 1997. The study presents the impact of this approach.
Thirty-seven consecutive cases of fetal CAVB since 1990 were studied. Mean age at diagnosis was 25.6+/-5.2 gestational weeks. In 33 patients (92%), CAVB was associated with maternal anti-Ro/La autoantibodies. Patients were separated into those diagnosed between 1990 and 1996 (group 1; n=16) and those diagnosed between 1997 and 2003 (group 2; n=21). The 2 study groups were comparable in the clinical presentation at CAVB diagnosis but did differ in prenatal management (treated patients: group 1, 4/16; group 2, 18/21; P<0.0001). Overall, 22 fetuses were treated, 21 with dexamethasone and 9 with beta-stimulation for a mean of 7.5+/-4.5 weeks. Live-birth and 1-year survival rates of group 1 were 80% and 47%, and these improved to 95% for group 2 patients.
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Although pulmonary medicine only began to evolve as a medical specialty in the 1950s, William Welch and William Osler founded the ‘parent’ organization of the American Thoracic Society, the National Association.