Hydrops fetalis was diagnosed at 22 weeks. An ultrasound examination demonstrated cardiomegaly and a fetal blood specimen obtained by cordocentesis revealed thrombocytopenia, anaemia, and neutropenia. Fetal paracentesis yielded straw‐coloured fluid with electrolytes indicative of a transudate. Non‐enveloped icosahedral viral particles approximately 23 mm in diameter were visualized in the ascitic fluid by electron microscopy. Immune electron microscopy confirmed human parvovirus B19. Direct fetal digitalization led to a reduction in umbilical artery resistance, a decline in the abdominal circumference from 20·3 to 17·8 cm, and resolution of the ascites within 72 h. Despite this dramatic response to therapy, fetal death occurred on day 5 of treatment. The initial maternal serum was positive for anti‐B19 IgM and IgG antibodies. Electron microscopy of fetal cardiac tissue obtained post‐mortem revealed intranuclear viral particles typical of B19, confirming the antenatal diagnosis of myocarditis. This case demonstrates that direct viral identification is applicable to prenatal diagnosis. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of the antenatal diagnosis and palliative treatment of fetal viral infection.
Prenatal Diagnosis – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1989
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