Percutaneous in utero thoracoamniotic shunt creation for fetal thoracic abnormalities leading to nonimmune hydrops


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Aurora Baycare Medical Center Clinic


PURPOSE: To describe a transabdominal, transuterine Seldinger-based percutaneous approach to create a shunt for treatment of fetal thoracic abnormalities.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Five fetuses presented with nonimmune fetal hydrops secondary to fetal thoracic abnormalities causing severe mass effect. Under direct ultrasound guidance, an 18-gauge needle was used to access the malformation. Through a peel-away sheath, a customized pediatric transplant 4.5-F double J ureteral stent was advanced; the leading loop was placed in the fetal thorax, and the trailing end was left outside the fetal thorax within the amniotic cavity.

RESULTS: Seven thoracoamniotic shunts were successfully placed in five fetuses; one shunt was immediately replaced because of displacement during the procedure, and another shunt was not functioning at follow-up requiring insertion of a second shunt. All fetuses had successful decompression of the thoracic malformation, allowing lung reexpansion and resolution of hydrops. Three of five mothers had meaningful (> 7 d) prolongation of their pregnancies. All pregnancies were maintained to > 30 weeks (range, 30 weeks 1 d-37 weeks 2 d). There were no maternal complications.

CONCLUSIONS: A Seldinger-based percutaneous approach to draining fetal thoracic abnormalities is feasible and can allow for prolongation of pregnancy and antenatal lung development and ultimately result in fetal survival.

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