Foetal surgery and cleft lip and palate: Current status and new perspectives

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Now-a-days, high-resolution ultrasound allows an accurate and relatively early diagnosis of congenital malformations. In a limited number of such conditions foetal surgery may be lifesaving. However, premature labour has been the major drawback for open foetal surgery. Recently, improvement of video-endoscopic technology has boosted the development of operative techniques for feto-endoscopic surgery, which has been demonstrated to be less invasive than the open approach. Main clinical application of fetoscopic procedures today is the treatment of feto-foetal transfusion syndrome. Although still in development, feto-endoscopic surgery seems to offer new hope for surgical foetal therapy not only in cases of life threatening conditions. Experimental intrauterine correction of cleft lip and palate (CLP) has been lately performed using the feto-endoscopic approach. This procedure offers two major advantages: First, scarless foetal wound healing and bone healing without callus formation, which would also allow a better/normal maxillary growth, and second, significant decrease of foetal and maternal morbidity. Herein, we report the current status of experimental and clinical foetal surgery and propose possible directions for continuing research to make intrauterine procedures safer. Furthermore, we discuss current knowledge and new perspectives of experimental foetal cleft lip and palate repair, which in the future may lead to such excellent results in the operative treatment of clefts, that less or no secondary corrections and therapies, such as orthodontic, dental, logopedic, etc. would be needed. Only if these conditions can be fulfilled, will we be able to improve substantially our therapy for the human foetus with a cleft lip and palate. In spite of all efforts, however, it must be considered that it may not ever be possible to find the optimal treatment method for this or other craniofacial malformations. © 2005 The British Association of Plastic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.




Papadopulos, N. A., Papadopoulos, M. A., Kovacs, L., Zeilhofer, H. F., Henke, J., Boettcher, P., & Biemer, E. (2005). Foetal surgery and cleft lip and palate: Current status and new perspectives. British Journal of Plastic Surgery, 58(5), 593–607.

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