The Fetal Aorta Study

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Echocardiographic Z-scores for Fetal Aortic Arch Dimensions



  • Contact name

    Julene S Carvalho

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, Part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    1 years, 0 months, 1 days

  • Research summary

    The aorta, the main artery coming out of the heart, has a unique wall structure and elastic properties, and part of it is shaped like an arch (aortic arch). In several inherited diseases, such as Marfan syndrome, the wall structure is altered, and the aorta gets stiffer. This can lead to reshaping and dilatation (enlargement) of the aorta, which increases the risk of an aortic rupture, a life-threatening condition. Early diagnosis of a ‘disease of the aorta’ or ‘aortopathy’ holds great importance because affected people can be offered medication to slow down the progression of aortic dilatation.
    From our experience in scanning hearts of babies in the womb, we have observed abnormally shaped/wide aortic arches in cases later shown to have a diseased aorta or genetic syndromes. We believe measuring the aortic arch width could help identify the arches with abnormal shaping and help us develop a reference range for normal aortic arch width, something that currently does not exist.

    Research Aims:
    The primary aim of this study is to measure the size/shape of the normal fetal aorta across gestation. This can provide us with a fair example of what the range for a normal aortic arch width is, for comparison to an abnormal one. The secondary aim is to look at how the blood flows within it.

    Ten women will be recruited per gestational age (16-38 weeks) from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital (CWH) and Royal Brompton Hospital (RBH). Those willing to participate will consent to having one fetal echo at either CWH or RBH. The research team will also contact them after baby is born to obtain postnatal outcome. We will establish the limits of normality for the aortic arch measurements. We have already secured funding from the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity Fellowship.

  • REC name

    East of England - Cambridge Central Research Ethics Committee

  • REC reference


  • Date of REC Opinion

    24 Jan 2022

  • REC opinion

    Favourable Opinion