A surgical procedure performed in utero saves two foetuses

Publié le : 16 April 2014

 Foetal medicine involves "carrying out a procedure in utero, directly on the foetus, to resolve any complications during pregnancy". Suffering from twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, two foetuses in a life-threatening situation were saved following this type of procedure. 

Twin-to-twin transfusion affects 15% of twin pregnancies.  It occurs when the "placenta is not evenly shared by the two foetuses" and "is caused by an imbalance in the blood vessels in the placenta. The presence of shared vascularisation within one placenta for two babies means that one of the twins gives everything to the other (twin-to-twin transfusion). Left untreated, the babies would almost inevitably die". 

In October 2013, a team from the Maternal-Foetal Medicine Department at the CHU Vaudois (University Hospital Centre) in Lausanne, Switzerland, saved two foetuses at three and a half months by performing a surgical procedure in utero. The medical team "used a technique known as foetoscopy, which allows the surgeon to see the unborn babies by making a small incision in the uterus and inserting a miniature camera connected to a laser fibre". By carrying out an ultrasound scan at the same time, "foetoscopy allows diseases with a very poor prognosis to be treated". Using the laser, doctors can "remove the blood vessels causing the problem and restore even distribution". 

Today, the two babies have been discharged from hospital and are doing well.

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