Fetoscopic temporary tracheal occlusion for congenital diaphragmatic hernia: prelude to a randomized, controlled trial

Michael R Harrison, Roman M Sydorak, Jody A Farrell, Joseph A Kitterman, Roy A Filly, Craig T Albanese
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2003, 38 (7): 1012-20

OBJECTIVE: As previously reported, high postnatal mortality seen in fetuses with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) with liver herniation and low lung-to-head ratio (LHR) appears to be improved in fetuses who undergo fetoscopic temporary tracheal occlusion (TO). To test whether further evolution of this technique produces results that justify a randomized controlled trial comparing prenatal intervention to postnatal care, the authors analyzed 11 additional cases and the cumulative experience with 19 cases.

METHODS: The authors analyzed retrospectively the outcome of 11 new and 8 previously reported cases of fetoscopic temporary tracheal occlusion. Various factors were studied including maternal morbidity, antenatal outcome, physiologic lung response, and neonatal course.

RESULTS: Temporary TO can be accomplished using 3 5-mm radially expanding uterine ports without hysterotomy. Obstetric morbidity included mild pulmonary edema in 6 cases, chorioamniotic separation and premature rupture of membranes in 12 patients, and preterm labor and delivery in all patients. Thirteen of 19 (68%) neonates survived for 90 days after delivery; one died in utero, and 5 died after birth. Late mortality included one death caused by sepsis and 2 by complications associated with tracheostomies. Morbidity from gastroesophageal reflux requiring Nissen fundoplication, tracheal injury requiring repair or tracheostomy, and recurrent hernias after diaphragmatic repair were characteristic in longterm survivors.

CONCLUSIONS: Fetoscopic temporary TO may improve outcome in poor-prognosis fetuses with CDH. However, complications related to tracheal dissection, premature delivery and late morbidity are significant. This experience has led to simpler techniques for fetoscopic tracheal occlusion and to an National Institutes of Health-sponsored randomized controlled trial comparing fetoscopic tracheal occlusion with optimal postnatal care.

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