Aims Evaluation of the prevalence and spontaneous closure rate of the most common congenital heart defect (CHD) – the ventricular septal defect (VSD) – in one maternity clinic, using colour flow Doppler echocardiographic screening (ECHO).
Methods Over a period of 7 years ECHO was offered to all babies who were born at the Marien hospital in Darmstadt. An experienced paediatric cardiologist performed the ECHO using a 10 MHz transducer within the first 72 h of neonatal life. The prevalence of different types of VSD and their outcome were evaluated.
Results 8082 neonates were screened. 399 cases (49/1000) of CHD were detected by ECHO. VSD was found in 320 neonates (40/1000) (137 male, 183 female): 4 perimembranous, 24 multiple and 292 muscular VSD. 2 major, 16 hemodynamically significant and 304 minor VSD. 46 had a typical murmur (14%), 274 were without clinical sign (including 1 major VSD). In the follow-up (3 month to 6,7 years) 280 could be included: the 2 major VSD had to be closed interventionally and surgically within the first year of life. The spontaneous closure rate was 89% after 0,2–4,5 years (average 0,6) (hemodynamically significant: 50%, minor VSD: 93%). All VSD without spontaneous closure after 1 year (22 cases) had a typical murmur.
Conclusions The prevalence of VSD is considerably high in neonates when ECHO is performed. There are slightly more female neonates with this diagnosis. The spontaneous closure rate is high regarding minor VSD. Auscultation is insufficient to diagnose VSD in neonatal period but is excellent in the follow-up to detect VSD without spontaneous closure.