Fetoscopic Open Neural Tube Defect Repair: Development and Refinement of a Two-Port, Carbon Dioxide Insufflation Technique

Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Apr;129(4):734-743. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001941.


Objective: To describe development of a two-port fetoscopic technique for spina bifida repair in the exteriorized, carbon dioxide-filled uterus and report early results of two cohorts of patients: the first 15 treated with an iterative technique and the latter 13 with a standardized technique.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study (2014-2016). All patients met Management of Myelomeningocele Study selection criteria. The intraoperative approach was iterative in the first 15 patients and was then standardized. Obstetric, maternal, fetal, and early neonatal outcomes were compared. Standard parametric and nonparametric tests were used as appropriate.

Results: Data for 28 patients (22 endoscopic only, four hybrid, two abandoned) are reported, but only those with a complete fetoscopic repair were analyzed (iterative technique [n=10] compared with standardized technique [n=12]). Maternal demographics and gestational age (median [range]) at fetal surgery (25.4 [22.9-25.9] compared with 24.8 [24-25.6] weeks) were similar, but delivery occurred at 35.9 (26-39) weeks of gestation with the iterative technique compared with 39 (35.9-40) weeks of gestation with the standardized technique (P<.01). Duration of surgery (267 [107-434] compared with 246 [206-333] minutes), complication rates, preterm prelabor rupture of membranes rates (4/12 [33%] compared with 1/10 [10%]), and vaginal delivery rates (5/12 [42%] compared with 6/10 [60%]) were not statistically different in the iterative and standardized techniques, respectively. In 6 of 12 (50%) compared with 1 of 10 (10%), respectively (P=.07), there was leakage of cerebrospinal fluid from the repair site at birth. Management of Myelomeningocele Study criteria for hydrocephalus-death at discharge were met in 9 of 12 (75%) and 3 of 10 (30%), respectively, and 7 of 12 (58%) compared with 2 of 10 (20%) have been treated for hydrocephalus to date. These latter differences were not statistically significant.

Conclusion: Fetoscopic open neural tube defect repair does not appear to increase maternal-fetal complications as compared with repair by hysterotomy, allows for vaginal delivery, and may reduce long-term maternal risks.

Clinical trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, https://clinicaltrials.gov, NCT02230072.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbon Dioxide / therapeutic use*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak* / diagnosis
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid Leak* / etiology
  • Comparative Effectiveness Research
  • Female
  • Fetoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Fetoscopy* / methods
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hysterotomy / adverse effects
  • Hysterotomy / methods
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insufflation* / adverse effects
  • Insufflation* / methods
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Dysraphism* / diagnosis
  • Spinal Dysraphism* / surgery


  • Carbon Dioxide

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02230072