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Conditions Treated with Fetal Surgery and Intervention

Better outcomes for moms and babies

Often, conditions identified in the womb can be treated with fetal surgery before birth. In the Fetal Health Center, we help families experiencing a diagnosis like twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, myelomeningocele (spina bifida), and many others to receive treatment in the womb for their baby.  

This chart shows the types of fetal interventions we performed last year. While every case is different, it can help you see which conditions may be good candidates for a fetal procedure.   

Treatments for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, fetal myelomeningocele repair and amnioinfusion make up more than half the cases we saw last year. In addition to those, there are many less common conditions we were able to treat using needle-guided techniques, including: 

  • Fetal percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS) procedures, with or without transfusion 
  • Fetal thoracoamniotic shunt placements 
  • Fetal vesicoamniotic shunt placements 
  • Amnioreductions 
  • Fetal paracentesis 
  • Fetal thoracocentesis 
  • Fetal cyst aspiration/drainage 
  • The interventions listed above are all needle-guided

Fetal Interventions

Fetal conditions we see at Children's Mercy

Often, conditions identified in the womb can be treated with fetal surgery before birth. Here are some conditions that are often treated with intervention:

  • Amniotic Band Syndrome - the developing baby is exposed to floating tissues that can become entangled around them

  • Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation - where a mass of abnormal fetal lung tissue forms, usually in one lung causing it not to function as normal

  • Discordant Monochorionic Twins - discordant monochorionic twins creates a possibility that the babies will develop Twin-to-twin Transfusion Syndrome

  • Fetal Anemia - the baby has an inadequate number or quality of red blood cells in their circulatory system

  • Fetal Bladder Outlet Obstruction - the baby's bladder has a blockage preventing the urine flow into the amniotic fluid

  • Fetal Tumors - tumors found in prenatal development that can harm the baby by requiring significant blood supply

  • Iatrogenic and Previable Ruptured Membranes - management should the amniotic fluids break or leak either spontaneously or after a prior invasive procedure

  • Placental Chorioangioma - removal of benign tumors in the placenta

  • Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction - the baby's fetal weight is below the 10th percentile


Spina bifida: Sarah and Hadley's story

At their 20-week ultrasound, Sarah and her husband, Jed, were excited to learn Sarah was carrying a baby girl. But their doctor also gave them some very serious news—their child had a neural tube defect called open myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida. Sarah's doctor shared that fetal surgery might be an option for Hadley. Sarah and Jed turned to Dr. Emanuel "Mike" Vlastos at Children's Mercy to create a care plan.

Meet Sarah and Hadley
Baby Hadley, diagnosed with spina bifida and treated at Children's Mercy