Objective: Primary fetal pleural effusions are rare. If severe, thoracoamniotic shunting is needed. Our objective was to study the management and outcomes of pleural effusions in our unit.
Methods: Retrospective analysis of primary fetal hydrothorax between 1991 and 2010.
Results: Of 41 cases, 23 (56%) were hydropic, and 27 (66%) required shunting. Overall, 2 (4.8%) were diagnosed with a chromosomal condition and 4 (9.6%) with a congenital condition (3 Noonan syndrome, 1 mild structural cardiac defect). There were 5 terminations of pregnancy (TOP), 3 in utero deaths and 33 liveborn neonates (80%). Intact survival rate was 44% (12/27) among those shunted, 56% (23/41) among all cases and 70% (23/33) among all liveborn neonates. Most (87.5%) neonatal deaths occurred in newborns delivered before 34 weeks of gestation. The survival rate was higher in nonhydropic compared with hydropic fetuses (85% vs 47%). There were no procedure-related fetal losses. One in utero death was complicated by fatal maternal amniotic embolism.
Conclusion: Fetuses with pleural effusions should undergo expert prenatal workup. Hydropic fetuses and those with massive effusions are candidates for thoracoamniotic shunting.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.