Many, if not most, of the controversies regarding the description of the congenitally malformed heart have been resolved over the turn of the 20th century. A group of lesions that remains contentious is the situation in which both arterial trunks, in their greater part, are supported by the morphologically right ventricle. It was considered, for many years, that presence of bilateral infundibulums, or conuses, was a necessity for such a diagnosis. It has now been appreciated that this suggestion founders on many counts. In the first instance, such bilateral infundibulums are to be found in patients with other ventriculo-arterial connections, including the otherwise normal heart. In the second instance, it is clear that such an approach abrogates the important principle now known as the morphological method. This states that entities should be defined in terms of their intrinsic morphology and not on the basis of other variable features. It is now also clear that, when assessed simply on the basis of the ventricular origin of the arterial trunks, a significant number of patients fulfil the criteria for so-called “200%” origin of the trunks from the right ventricle when there is fibrous continuity between the leaflets of the atrioventricular and arterial valves. In this review, we show how attention to the morphology of the channel between the ventricles now provides the key to accurately diagnose the ventriculo-arterial connection in patients with suspected double-outlet right ventricle.
This is because, when both arterial trunks arise exclusively or predominantly from the morphologically right ventricle, the outlet septum, of necessity, is itself a right ventricular structure. The channel between the ventricles, therefore, is roofed by the inner heart curvature, whether that structure is fibrous or muscular. Our observations then confirm that it is the attachment of the outlet septum, which itself can be muscular or fibrous, which determines the commitment of the interventricular communication to the subarterial outlets. The interventricular communication itself, when directly committed to the ventricular outlets, opens between the limbs of the septomarginal trabeculation or septal band. The defect is subaortic when the outlet septum is attached to the cranial limb of the trabeculation, subpulmonary when attached to the caudal limb, and doubly committed when attached to the inner heart curvature in the roof of the defect. Non-committed defects are no longer positioned within the limbs of the septomarginal trabeculation. Although readily demonstrable by a skilled echocardiographer, we show how these anatomical features are more easily demonstrated with added accuracy when using CT data sets.
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