The incidence and spectrum of neurological injury after open fetal surgery

J Pediatr Surg. 1995 Aug;30(8):1150-4. doi: 10.1016/0022-3468(95)90009-8.


A preterm infant's immature brain is susceptible to both anoxic and hemorrhagic injury during periods of physiological stress. The advent of in utero surgery has created a new population of premature patients at risk for central nervous system (CNS) injury. The aim of this study was to evaluate the frequency and nature of CNS injuries in fetal surgical patients. Of 33 fetuses with known neurological outcome after fetal surgery, CNS injuries were identified in seven (21%). Of the seven, four had significant episodes of fetal bradycardia (3) or neonatal hypotension (1), which suggests that asphyxia contributed to the neurological injury. The CNS injuries in the other three patients occurred unexpectedly and without associated signs of fetal distress. The authors speculate that these injuries may have been caused by sudden fluxes in cerebral blood flow, induced by maternal hypoxia (1) or by maternally administered tocolytic drugs (2) used to treat postoperative preterm labor.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bradycardia / etiology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / etiology*
  • Fetal Diseases / surgery
  • Fetal Distress / etiology
  • Fetus / surgery*
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus / etiology
  • Hypotension / etiology
  • Hypoxia / complications
  • Hypoxia, Brain / etiology*
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Leukomalacia, Periventricular / etiology
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Tocolytic Agents / adverse effects


  • Tocolytic Agents