Prenatal diagnosis and management of abdominal wall defects.
The widespread use of fetal ultrasonography in routine antenatal care now allows the majority of abdominal wall defects to be identified prenatally, with subsequent opportunities for parental counseling, fetal intervention, and optimal perinatal management. Outcome is significantly affected by the presence of additional structural or chromosomal malformations; appropriate multidisciplinary counseling and management is dependent on the early identification of such anomalies in addition to accurate delineation of the abdominal wall defect itself. In cases with associated lethal or multiple severe abnormalities, parents may opt for elective termination of the pregnancy. Serial sonography is of particular value in gastroschisis, but there is little evidence that fetal manipulation or premature delivery confers any significant benefit. For all types of abdominal wall defect, optimal perinatal management is achieved in centers where neonatal medical, surgical, and anesthetic expertise is immediately available; cases diagnosed in units without these services should be considered for in utero transport to the nearest perinatal center.
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