Fetal Surgery Services

Fetal Surgery Services

Regardless of whether our providers are treating fetal conditions from routine to rare, our team of multidisciplinary specialists work together with families to determine the best course of action for the mother and baby.

Through compassionate care that centers best practices and comprehensive health, we are committed to helping guide patients and families through pregnancies to achieve healthy long-term outcomes.


Fetal surgery services:

EXIT Procedures: The EXIT (Ex utero Intrapartum Treatment) procedure is a specialized surgical technique used to deliver babies who have airway or other medical problems that make breathing difficult after delivery. During the EXIT procedure, the baby is partially delivered from the uterus while keeping the umbilical cord attached, allowing for continued oxygenation from the placenta. The surgical team then provides necessary medical interventions to establish the baby's airway, stabilize their condition, and prepare for a safe delivery. The EXIT procedure is typically performed in high-risk pregnancies and requires a multidisciplinary team of specialists.

Fetoscopic Laser Surgery: Fetoscopic laser surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) in identical twins who share a placenta. During fetoscopic laser surgery, a small telescope with a camera and laser fiber is inserted through a tiny incision in the mother's abdomen and into the uterus. The surgeon uses the laser to selectively coagulate the blood vessels connecting the shared placenta, which equalizes the blood flow and reduces the risk of complications.

The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia and typically lasts 1-2 hours. Recovery time is relatively short, and the risk of complications is low.

Fetal Shunt placement: Fetal shunt placement is a surgical procedure performed on a developing fetus to treat certain medical conditions, such as hydrocephalus or pleural effusions. During the procedure, a small tube (shunt) is placed in the fetal chest or abdomen to divert fluid away from a body cavity or organ that is under pressure, allowing the fetus to develop more normally.

The procedure is typically performed between 18 and 26 weeks of gestation and may be done under ultrasound guidance. Fetal shunt placement carries some risks, such as infection or premature labor, but the benefits of treating the underlying medical condition often outweigh the risks. After the procedure, careful monitoring of the mother and fetus is necessary to ensure the shunt is functioning properly.

Open fetal surgery for Spina Bifida: Open fetal surgery for spina bifida is a complex surgical procedure performed on a developing fetus to treat myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida. During the procedure, a surgical team opens the uterus and repairs the spinal defect in the fetus while still in the womb. The team also places a shunt to redirect fluid buildup away from the brain and prevent hydrocephalus.

Open fetal surgery for spina bifida is usually performed between 19 and 26 weeks of gestation and requires a large, experienced team of specialists. The procedure carries risks to both the mother and the fetus, including premature labor, infection, and fetal death, but studies have shown that it can improve outcomes for infants with myelomeningocele, reducing the need for shunts and improving their ability to walk. After the procedure, close monitoring of the mother and fetus is necessary to minimize risks and ensure the best possible outcome.


Make an Appointment

For the best surgical care in Tucson, Southern Arizona or the Southwest, make an appointment by calling

(520) 694-8888.

Contact Us

University of Arizona Department of Surgery

Division of Pediatric Surgery

PO Box 245131

Tucson, AZ 85724-5131

Office Phone: (520) 621-8745

Fax: (520) 626-2247