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Fetal surgeon shows for first time that laser procedure may treat vasa previa
Date:12/18/2007

Tampa, FL (Dec. 18, 2007) -- A University of South Florida fetal surgeon at Tampa General Hospital successfully treated in utero a rare but potentially devastating condition in which placental blood vessels block the birth canal and can rupture during labor, leaving the baby without vital blood and oxygen. If undiagnosed, the condition known as vasa previa is frequently deadly for newborns.

The case was reported by Ruben Quintero, MD, professor and director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at USF Health, in the December 2007 issue of the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. Dr. Quintero used a laser to seal off the abnormally positioned fetal blood vessels connecting the two parts of a bilobed placenta. The procedure essentially removed the unprotected vessels crossing the cervical entrance to the birth canal beneath the baby, so that the vessels would not tear or break and cause rapid fetal hemorrhage.

This is the first time laser therapy has been used to correct vasa previa, said Dr. Quintero, a pioneer in the field of minimally-invasive fetal surgery. Patients have described this prenatal condition as a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. A patient with vasa previa lives with the constant worry that if her water breaks at any time, she may lose the pregnancy.

Dr. Quintero has long been recognized for his excellence in innovation in fetal intervention. His successful in utero laser treatment of vasa previa is potentially a very important breakthrough because it may avert fetal hemorrhage, said Frank Chervenak, MD, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. This report must be followed by scientifically and ethically rigorous clinical investigation before being offered to patients as the standard of care.

Dr. Quintero is an expert at pinpointing abnormal placental vessels with an endoscope inserted through the abdominal wall
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Contact: Anne DeLotto Baier
abaier@health.usf.edu
813-974-3300
University of South Florida Health
Source:Eurekalert

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