Medical Professional Publications

Ohio’s First Fetal Heart Procedure

Columbus, OH — April 2017

The Congenital Heart Collaborative — a partnership between Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and Cleveland’s University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital – in February performed an aortic valvuloplasty on a fetus at 29 weeks gestational age. The procedure, completed through the collaborative’s Fetal Heart Program, was the first of its kind in Ohio.

Aimee K. Armstrong, MD, director of Cardiac Catheterization and Interventional Therapies at Nationwide Children’s, organized the procedure team. Dr. Armstrong had previously performed fetal aortic valvuloplasty at the University of Michigan.

“By performing interventions on the fetal heart, we are able to alter the trajectory of heart and lung disease development before a baby is born with the goal of making the baby’s heart healthier at birth,” says Dr. Armstrong, who is also an associate professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “We ultimately hope to be able to decrease morbidity and mortality for these babies.”

February’s procedure occurred at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. Fetal echocardiography indicated critical aortic stenosis with evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome and mitral valve regurgitation.

The aortic valvuloplasty approach has been shown to help prevent the progression of hypoplastic left heart syndrome in about half of all treated patients. It ultimately may decrease the number of surgeries required later in life. Dr. Armstrong notes, however, that the majority of babies born with this patient’s conditions do not survive the first year.

Fetal valvuloplasty uses ultrasound guidance and a catheter-based approach to gain access to the fetal heart and to open the aortic valve using a balloon. This increases blood flow through the left ventricle of the heart to help its development. 

“We noted improvement in the way the blood flows through the heart in this case prior to mom’s discharge,” says James Strainic, MD, Director, Fetal Heart Program at UH Rainbow.

The Congenital Heart Collaborative’s Fetal Heart Program offers cardiac interventions for unborn babies with developing hypoplastic left heart syndrome and other critical, congenital heart conditions.

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Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000