Long-term fetal outcome after fetal cardiac bypass: Fetal survival to full term and organ abnormalities

V. M. Reddy, J. R. Liddicoat, J. R. Klein, R. K. Wampler, F. L. Hanley, E. D. Verrier, M. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background: Earlier work suggests that fetal cardiac bypass is technically feasible but results in significant placental dysfunction. Many of the stimuli that initiate this placental dysfunction have been identified in the past several years and these involve fetal stress, extracorporeal surfaces, priming substances (maternal blood), and flow characteristics. Fetal survival with conventional methods of bypass has been far less than optimal. A novel fetal bypass circuit requiring no priming volume was designed incorporating an in-line axial flow pump (Hemopump, Johnson and Johnson Interventional Systems, Rancho Cordova, Calif.) and was demonstrated to have a marked beneficial effect on placental function. Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of this newly developed customized fetal bypass circuit on fetal survival and developing fetal organs. Methods and results: Nine fetuses at 122 to 126 days of gestation were subjected to fetal cardiac bypass via a transsternal approach, with a 16F single right atrial venous cannula and a 12F arterial cannula. Normothermic cardiac bypass was continued far 30 minutes at flow rates of 320 ± 32 ml/kg. Of the nine fetuses, one fetus was stillborn 4 days after bypass and eight (89%) were delivered alive after progressing to term gestation. One lamb died of blunt trauma 1 day after birth. All other lambs (n = 7) thrived normally, and at 1 week of age they were subjected to autopsy. No gross hemorrhagic or thromboembolic lesions were detected in the organs examined including the brain. Microscopic examination of representative sections from all organs revealed mild pleural reaction in two lambs, and in two other lambs the hepatocytes showed evidence of mild increase in glycogen content, the significance of which is unknown in relation to fetal bypass. In one fetus that was aborted there was evidence of mild to moderate neuronal loss in the cerebral cortex. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that with improvements in fetal extracorporeal circuitry and techniques very favorable fetal outcome can be achieved. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the effects of bypass on fetal brain in an appropriate animal model. Advances in extracorporeal circuitry to suit the unique fetal physiology increase the possibility of future clinical application.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-544
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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