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Semin Pediatr Surg. 2003 Aug;12(3):196-201.

Anesthesia for fetal surgery.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Fetal surgery is a rapidly growing and evolving area. Fetal surgery is based on years of animal and clinical research. In contrast, anesthesia techniques for fetal surgery are based on clinical experience. The techniques that have emerged are safe for mother and fetus. In this review, the authors describe current techniques for anesthetic management of fetal surgery patients. General anesthesia is the primary technique used for hysterotomy based surgical correction of midgestation fetuses and ex utero interpartum corrections of end-gestation fetuses. Epidural analgesia, with general anesthesia as back-up, is the primary technique used for fetoscopic cases in which anesthetic care is required. Because of the myriad of anesthetic and surgical issues these cases generate, it is essential to have good communication and cooperation between surgeons and anesthesiologists from the preoperative period to the postoperative period. This will allow development of a cohesive anesthetic and surgical plan that can be used for the safe perioperative management of the fetal surgery patient.

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