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Ductus venosus blood velocity in persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn


AIMS To investigate the ductus venosus flow velocity (DVFV) in infants with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN); to evaluate the DVFV pattern as a possible diagnostic supplement in neonates with PPHN and other conditions with increased right atrial pressure.

METHODS DVFV was studied in 16 neonates with PPHN on days 1–4 of postnatal life using Doppler echocardiography. DVFV was compared with that in mechanically ventilated neonates with increased intrathoracic pressure, but without signs of PPHN (n=11); with neonates with congenital heart defects resulting in right atrial pressure (n=6); and with preterm neonates without PPHN (n=46); and healthy term neonates (n=50).

RESULTS Infants with PPHN and congenital heart defects with increased right atrial pressure were regularly associated with an increased pulsatile pattern and a reversed flow velocity in ductus venosus during atrial contraction. A few short instances of reversed velocity were also noted in normal neonates before the circulation had settled during the first day after birth.

CONCLUSIONS A reversed velocity in the ductus venosus during atrial contraction at this time signifies that central venous pressure exceeds portal pressure. This negative velocity deflection is easily recognised during Doppler examination and can be recommended for diagnosing increased right atrial pressure and PPHN.

  • ductus venosus
  • persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn
  • echocardiography

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