The decision to initiate pharmacological intervention in case of fetal tachycardia depends on several factors and must be weighed against possible maternal and/or fetal adverse effects inherent to the use of antiarrhythmics. First, the seriousness of the fetal condition must be recognized. Many studies have shown that in case of fetal tachycardia, there is a significant predisposition to congestive heart failure and subsequent development of fetal hydrops and even sudden cardiac death1,2,3 Secondly, predictors of congestive heart failure have been suggested in several studies, such as the percentage of time that the tachycardia is present, the gestational age at which the tachycardia occurs4, the ventricular rate5 and the site of origin of the tachycardia6. However, the sensitivity of these predictors is low and they are therefore clinically not very useful. In addition, hemodynamic compromise may occur in less than 24 - 48 hours as has been shown in the fetal lamb7 and in tachycardic fetuses8,9. On the other hand, spontaneous resolution of the tachycardia has also been described10. Thirdly, transplacental management of fetuses with tricuspid regurgitation11, congestive heart failure or fetal hydrops is difficult12,13, probably as a result of limited transplacental transfer of the antiarrhythmic drug14,15. In case of fetal hydrops, conversion rates are decreased and time to conversion is increased13. Treatment of sustained fetal tachycardia is therefore to be preferred above expectant management, although some centers oppose this regimen and suggest that in cases with (intermittent) fetal SVT not complicated by congestive heart failure or fetal hydrops, conservative management and close surveillance might be a reasonable alternative16,17,18
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