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J Pediatr Surg. 2004 Mar;39(3):430-8; discussion 430-8.

Sacrococcygeal teratoma: prenatal assessment, fetal intervention, and outcome.

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  • 1Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4399, USA.



To understand the natural history and define indications for fetal intervention in sacrococcygeal teratoma (SCT), the authors reviewed all cases of fetal SCT presenting for evaluation.


Prenatal diagnostic studies including ultrasound scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), echocardiography and pre- and postnatal outcomes were reviewed in 30 cases of SCT that presented between September 1995 and January 2003.


The mean gestational age (GA) at presentation was 23.9 weeks (range, 19 to 38.5) with 3 sets of twins (10%). Overall outcomes included 4 terminations, 5 fetal demises, 7 neonatal deaths, and 14 survivors. Significant obstetric complications occurred in 81% of the 26 continuing pregnancies: polyhydramnios (n = 7), oligohydramnios (n = 4), preterm labor (n = 13), preeclampsia (n = 4), gestational diabetes (n = 1), HELLP syndrome (n = 1), and hyperemesis (n = 1). Fetal intervention included cyst aspiration (n = 6), amnioreduction (n = 3), amnioinfusion (n = 1), and open fetal surgical resection (n = 4). Indications for cyst aspiration and amnioreduction were maternal discomfort, preterm labor, and prevention of tumor rupture at delivery. Although 15 SCTs were solid causing risk for cardiac failure, only 4 fetuses met criteria for fetal debulking based on ultrasonographic and echocardiographic evidence of impending high output failure and favorable anatomy at 21, 23.6, 25, and 26 weeks' gestation. Intraoperative events included maternal blood transfusion (n = 1), fetal blood transfusion (n = 2), chorioamniotic membrane separation (n = 2), and fetal arrest requiring successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (n = 1). In the fetal resection group, 3 of 4 survived with mean GA at delivery of 29 weeks (range, 27.6 to 31.7 weeks), mean birth weight of 1.3 kg, hospital stay ranging from 16 to 34 weeks, and follow-up ranging from 20 months to 6 years. Postnatal complications in the fetal surgery group included neonatal death (n = 1, secondary to premature closure of ductus arteriosus with cardiac failure), embolic event (n = 1, resulting in unilateral renal agenesis, jejunal atresia), chronic lung disease (n = 1), and tumor recurrence (n = 1).


For fetal SCT, the rapidity at which cardiac compromise can develop and the high incidence of obstetric complications warrant close prenatal surveillance. Amnioreduction, cyst aspiration, and surgical debulking are potentially life-saving interventions.

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