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DOI: 10.3390/children10020281; PMCID: PMC9955335


Fetal echocardiography is an excellent tool for accurately assessing the anatomy and physiology of most congenital heart defects (CHDs). Knowledge gathered from a thorough initial fetal echocardiogram and serial assessment assists with appropriate perinatal care planning, resulting in improved postnatal outcomes. However, fetal echocardiography alone provides limited information about the status of the pulmonary vasculature, which can be abnormal in certain complex CHDs with obstructed pulmonary venous flow (hypoplastic left heart syndrome with restrictive atrial septum) or excessive pulmonary artery flow (d-transposition of the great arteries, usually with a restrictive ductus arteriosus). Fetuses with these CHDs are at high risk of developing severe hemodynamic instability with the immediate transition from prenatal to postnatal circulatory physiology at the time of birth. Adjunctive use of acute maternal hyperoxygenation (MH) testing in such cases can help determine pulmonary vascular reactivity in prenatal life and better predict the likelihood of postnatal compromise and the need for emergent intervention. This comprehensive review discusses the findings of studies describing acute MH testing in a diverse spectrum of CHDs and congenital diagnoses with pulmonary hypoplasia. We review historical perspectives, safety profile, commonly used clinical protocols, limitations, and future directions of acute MH testing. We also provide practical tips on setting up MH testing in a fetal echocardiography laboratory.

Journal Title

Children (Basel)






congenital heart defects; delivery planning; fetal echocardiography; maternal hyperoxygenation test


This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

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