Since fetal surgery made its debut in 1981, the field has advanced at an exceptional rate.
Treatment options that were unimaginable only a few years ago are regularly saving the lives of unborn babies.
The St. Louis Fetal Care Institute is one of only a handful of centers in the country to offer these live-saving interventions, procedures and surgeries. If there is a way to help an unborn baby, we will find it.
We offer a number of advanced procedures, performed by knowledgeable surgeons and maternal fetal medicine specialists, with the guidance of neonatologists, pediatric specialists, and anesthesiologists.
Below are a few of the advanced interventions we offer:
EXIT (Ex Utero Intrapartum Treatment Procedure) Deliveries
The Ex Utero Intrapartum Treatment Procedure (EXIT procedure) is a special delivery performed when it is anticipated that a baby, or babies in the case of twins, will have an immediate, critical problem once separated from the mother at delivery.
The purpose of an EXIT is to provide the necessary intervention to the baby before the umbilical cord is cut, avoiding the crisis and allowing for a more stable transition from placental circulation to newborn circulation.
The St. Louis Fetal Care Institute performs EXIT procedures at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.
Fetoscopic Amniotic Band Release
In the case of amniotic band syndrome, the surgeon uses a tiny laser fiber, inserted through a fetoscope, to break constricting bands of amnion. Sometimes, a small instrument is required to cut the band.
Fetoscopic Laser Photocoagulation of Placental Vessels
In the case of twin to twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS), and selective intrauterine growth restriction (sIUGR) the surgeon uses a tiny laser fiber, inserted through a fetoscope, to eliminate shared placental blood vessels of twins so that each fetus can develop individually and healthily.
Open Fetal Repair for Myelomeningocele
In the case of a fetal myelomeningocele (spina bifida) repair, the uterus is opened through a small incision, allowing the neurosurgeon to repair the fetal myelomeningocele in utero.
Prenatal Surgery for Bladder Outlet Obstruction
In the case of bladder outlet obstruction (BOO), the surgeon uses a fetoscope and laser fiber to eliminate the valves obstructing the urethra. The goal is to prevent further damage to the fetal bladder, kidneys and allow for normal lung development.
Open Fetal Resection for Sacrococcygeal Teratoma
In the case of a sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT), the surgeon performs open fetal surgery to remove a tumor from the fetus.
Tissue Laser Ablation for Tumors
When a tumor, such as a sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT) or bronchopulmonary sequestration (BPS), grows so large that either it becomes taxing on the heart or compresses the lungs. A laser fiber can be directed through a tiny needle at the feeding blood vessels.
The laser energy blocks the blood vessels, slowing down the growth of the tumor and allowing the baby to develop more normally.
We also use the most up-to-date and advanced imaging tools to diagnose and track fetal conditions so that we can provide families with as much information as possible. Our goal is allow parents to make informed decisions about the care of their unborn child.