Analysis of the stepwise clinical introduction of experimental percutaneous fetoscopic surgical techniques for upcoming minimally invasive fetal cardiac interventions
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- Kohl, T., Hering, R., Van de Vondel, P. et al. Surg Endosc (2006) 20: 1134. doi:10.1007/s00464-005-0662-z
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This study assessed the feasibility and safety of surgical techniques developed in sheep for fetoscopic fetal cardiac interventions during three selected less complex procedures for noncardiac fetal conditions in humans. On the basis of this assessment, the implications for the clinical introduction of minimally invasive fetoscopic fetal cardiac interventions in the near future are discussed.
The authors performed 16 percutaneous fetoscopic procedures in 13 human fetuses at between 19 + 2 and 34 + 6 weeks of gestation, then analyzed various parameters of surgical relevance for minimally invasive fetoscopic fetal cardiac interventions. Each of the three noncardiac malformations posed typical surgical challenges that will be critical for the technical success of minimally invasive fetoscopic cardiac interventions.
Overall technical success was achieved in 14 of the 16 procedures. Percutaneous fetoscopic surgery did not result in any untoward effects and was well tolerated by all but two pregnant women: one with bleeding complication and one with mild postoperative pulmonary edema. No fetal complications or injuries from the various percutaneous fetoscopic surgical approaches were observed.
The author’s experience with surgical techniques introduced for percutaneous fetoscopic fetal cardiac intervention in selected noncardiac fetal lesions has led them to believe the time has come for the clinical introduction of fetoscopic fetal cardiac interventions. After an adequate learning curve supervised by committees of human research, the overall outcome and quality of postnatal life for the unborn patients ultimately will determine whether fetoscopic or other fetal cardiac interventions will be better therapeutic alternatives to currently available postnatal procedures.