Objective: To explore a surgical plug formed from decellularized term human amnion membrane for fetoscopic closure of iatrogenic defects in fetal membranes in a rabbit model.
Methods: The study was performed in eight rabbit does. Punctures were created at midgestational day 23 by 14-gauge needle fetoscopy on surgically exposed rabbit amniotic sacs. The entry sites were fetoscopically plugged either with decellularized term human amnion membrane (n=10) or previously successful commercial collagen matrix foil (n=10), followed by their primary fixation with fibrin glue and myometrial suturing. Seven punctured sacs without any plugging and 31 sacs without any manipulation served as two reference groups. Amniotic integrity and fetal parameters were assessed at gestational day 30.
Results: We established a facile method to prepare sheets of decellularized term human amnion membrane and verified its nontoxicity and cell compatibility in vitro. Decellularized term human amnion membrane sheets could be delivered precisely and controlled by fetoscopy as compact plugs into amniotic defects. The surgical handling characteristics of decellularized term human amnion membrane were better than the commercial collagen matrix foil. Treatment with human decellularized term human amnion membrane was comparable to treatment with the collagen matrix with regard to efficiency in restoring amniotic integrity. Seventy-five percent and 71.4% of amniotic sacs treated with decellularized term human amnion membrane or the commercial collagen matrix foil, respectively, showed amniotic integrity, compared with 25% in the left-open study group. Histology at the 1 week experimental endpoint showed no evidence for inflammation or beginning of anatomic healing of grafted, decellularized term human amnion membrane.
Conclusion: Fetoscopic delivery of plugs made of decellularized term human amnion membrane presents a potentially practical surgical method to restore amniotic integrity of punctured fetal membranes.
Level of evidence: III.