Fetal surgery for posterior urethral valves: long-term postnatal outcomes.
OBJECTIVE:Fetal intervention for obstructive uropathy was first performed at the University of California, San Francisco in 1981. Indications for treatment were bilateral hydronephrosis with oligohydramnios. Preintervention criteria included fetal urinary electrolytes with beta-microglobulin levels, karyotyping, and detailed sonography specifically looking for renal cortical cysts. We reviewed the outcomes of children who underwent fetal intervention with specific long-term follow-up in patients who were found postnatally to have posterior urethral valves. METHODS:A retrospective review of the University of California, San Francisco fetal surgery database was performed for patients with a prenatal diagnosis of obstructive uropathy. Medical records from 1981 to 1999 were reviewed. Long-term follow-up was documented if the cause of the urinary tract obstruction was posterior urethral valves. We collected data points, focusing on time and type of intervention, fetal urinary electrolytes, appearance of fetal kidneys, present renal function, length of follow-up, and present status of the urinary tract. RESULTS:Forty patients were evaluated for fetal intervention; 36 fetuses underwent surgery during this time period. Postnatal confirmation of posterior urethral valves was demonstrated in 14 patients. All patients had favorable fetal urinary electrolytes. Mean gestational age at intervention was 22.5 weeks. The procedures performed included creation of cutaneous ureterostomies in 1, fetal bladder marsupialization in 2, in utero ablation of valves in 2, and placement of vesicoamniotic catheter in 9. Six deaths occurred before term delivery with premature labor and the newborns succumbing to respiratory failure. One pregnancy was terminated electively because of shunt failure and declining appearance of fetal lungs and kidney. The remaining 8 living patients had a mean follow-up of 11.6 years. Chronic renal disease with abnormal serum creatinine was present in 5 patients. Two patients have undergone renal transplantation, and 1 is awaiting organ donation. Five of the 8 living patients have had urinary diversion with vesicostomy, cutaneous ureterostomy, or augmentation cystoplasty with later reconstruction. CONCLUSIONS:Fetal intervention for posterior urethral valves carries a considerable risk to the fetus with fetal mortality rate of 43%. The long-term outcomes indicate that intervention may not change the prognosis of renal function or be a predictor for possible urinary diversion. Despite all of these patients' having favorable urinary electrolytes, this did not seem to have any implication postnatally. When counseling families about fetal intervention, efforts should be focused on that intervention may assist in delivering the fetus to term and that the sequelae of posterior urethral valves may not be preventable. Fetal surgery for obstructive uropathy should be performed only for the carefully selected patient who has severe oligohydramnios and "normal"-appearing kidneys.
Holmes, N; Harrison, MR; Baskin, LS
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