Tracheoscopic endoluminal plugging using an inflatable device in the fetal lamb model
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OBJECTIVE: Intra-uterine tracheal occlusion has been proposed to reverse pulmonary hypoplasia, an important prognostic factor in congenital diaphragmatic hernia. We aimed to evaluate the feasibility and pulmonary effects of tracheoscopic tracheal obstruction with a detachable balloon. STUDY DESIGN: Fourteen mid-trimester fetuses out of 24 in 13 ewes underwent tracheoscopic balloon obstruction. Ten non-operated fetuses served as controls. Plugging was performed under fiber-tracheoscopy using a detachable balloon. Outcome measures consisted of: total operating time, tracheoscopy time, fetal survival, efficiency of plugging, and pulmonary effects. The Mann-Whitney test and linear regression were used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: Mean operating time and tracheoscopy time were 65+/-12 and 6.6+/-3.9 min, respectively. One intra-operative death occurred in each group. The post-operative mortality was 2/13 for cases and 2/9 for controls. In all 14 fetuses, the trachea was successfully obstructed. In the 11 treated animals born alive, the lung-to-body-weight ratio was 0.060+/-0.01, while in controls it was 0.031+/-0.01 (P = 0.0001). In a subset of six fetuses obstructed for 14-18 days, mean-terminal-bronchial density was 0.95+/-0.59, compared to 2.06+/-0.80 for controls (P = 0.046). CONCLUSIONS: Using fetal tracheoscopy, the trachea can successfully be obstructed with an inflatable balloon. Pulmonary hyperplasia is achieved when the obstruction lasts 2 weeks.
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