Operating on placental support: the ex utero intrapartum treatment procedure

J Pediatr Surg. 1997 Feb;32(2):227-30; discussion 230-1. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3468(97)90184-6.


While treating eight fetuses with predictable airway obstruction, the authors developed a systematic approach, the ex utero intrapartum treatment procedure, to secure the airway during delivery. Six patients had their trachea plugged or clipped in utero for treatment of congenital diaphragmatic hernia, and two patients had prenatally diagnosed cystic hygroma of the neck and oropharynx. The ex utero intrapartum treatment procedure was performed by using high doses of inhaled halogenated agents to facilitate uterine relaxation during cesarean section, securing the fetal airway while feto-placental circulation remained intact, and then dividing the umbilical cord. A variety of procedures were performed during the ex utero intrapartum treatment procedure including bronchoscopy, orotracheal intubation, tracheostomy, tracheostomy with retrograde orotracheal intubation, tracheoplasty, removal of internal tracheal plug, removal of external tracheal clip, central line placement, and instillation of surfactant. There were minimal maternal or fetal complications during the procedure. This approach requires the coordinated efforts of pediatric surgeons, obstetricians, anesthesiologists, sonographers, and neonatologists. The combination of intensive maternal-fetal monitoring, cesarean section with maximal uterine relaxation, and maintenance of intact feto-placental circulation provides a controlled environment for securing the airway in babies with prenatally diagnosed airway obstruction.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Airway Obstruction / surgery*
  • Cesarean Section
  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / therapy*
  • Fetus / surgery*
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / surgery
  • Hernia, Diaphragmatic / therapy
  • Hernias, Diaphragmatic, Congenital
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lymphangioma, Cystic / complications
  • Lymphangioma, Cystic / surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Trachea / surgery
  • Tracheostomy