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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2003 April;55(2):109-20

language: Italian

The newborn with cardiological problems. The dilemma between malformative and non-malformative pathology

Distefano G.


Cardiovascular impairment is frequent during the neonatal period and can be expression of malformative or not-malformative pathology. In both conditions the clinical presentation is often dramatic with cyanosis and/or heart failure. The neonatologist has to make differential diagnosis as soon as possible, because cardiac malformations in the neonatal period are usually ductus arteriosus-dependent and can worsen suddenly after its closure. Since colour Doppler-echocardiography is not available in all the neonatal units in order to be helped in the diagnosis, it is very important that neonatologists learn to use the indications obtained with a careful physical examination and with some simple instrumental tests, as chest X-ray, electrocardiogram and blood gas analysis. In this article a review is made of the most frequent heart malformations associated with cyanosis and/or heart failure during the neonatal period (complete transposition of the great arteries, Fallot's tetralogy, tricuspid and pulmonary atresia, aortic coarctation, interventricular septal defect, persistence of ductus arteriosus) and the most common neonatal pathologic conditions simulating congenital heart diseases (persistence of fetal circulation, neonatal transitory myocardial ischemia, hypervolemia, hypoglycemia, hypocalcemia). Some clinical, instrumental and laboratory findings that could be useful for the diagnosis in absence of echocardiography are also reported.

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