A fetus that suffered a severe obstruction of the aortic valve, which endangered his life, has been operated while he was still in the womb by doctors from Hospital Clínic and Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona.
One of every 5,000 fetuses suffers a pathology of this type, which usually causes the death of the fetus or, in the event that it survives birth, involves numerous health complications for the baby and significantly reduces their life expectancy.
In this case, the fetus, of 26 weeks of gestation, suffered a aortic stenosis criticism-detected thanks to an ultrasound-that prevented the left ventricle of his heart from developing properly.
The intervention -the first of these characteristics carried out in Catalonia- consisted in practicing a catheterization of the fetus inside the mother's womb, and in order to perform it the specialists previously anesthetized the fetus and placed it in an appropriate position, and went through the abdominal wall. from the mother with a needle until reaching the patient's heart. The specialist then introduced a catheter with a balloon that swelled in the area of the aortic valve that was obstructed, thus managing to eliminate the obstruction, allowing the left ventricle to develop without problems during pregnancy, and avoiding the atrophy that would have occurred. suffered the heart if the problem had not been solved.
Thanks to the intervention, the child has two well developed ventricles, and although he suffers from a disease that needs to be controlled, his prognosis is favorable, and his quality of life similar to that of the healthy population
José Caffarena, director of the heart area of the Hospital de Sant Joan de Déu, explained that had the procedure not been performed, the baby would have been born with a left ventricle that was almost useless, which would have caused a very serious pathology, while now the The child has two well developed ventricles, and although he suffers from a disease that must be controlled, his prognosis is favorable and his quality of life is similar to that of the healthy population.
This breakthrough in surgery has saved lives and improved the health of the fetuses that have this condition, since only a few years ago a fetus with a severe aortic valve obstruction could not be operated on, and the parents only had the alternative to abort or face a very unfavorable prognosis, since the newborn would have numerous sequelae and a poor quality of life, in addition to a high risk of dying from the cardiovascular disorder and its associated complications.