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Prenat Diagn. 2008 Jul;28(7):633-44. doi: 10.1002/pd.1999.

Gastroschisis: sonographic diagnosis, associations, management and outcome.

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Fetal Medicine Unit, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Obstetric Hospital, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.


Gastroschisis is a defect in the abdominal wall, typically on the right side of a normally inserted umbilical cord through which bowel and other abdominal contents herniate. Classically, no membrane covers the herniated abdominal contents, which distinguishes the defect from exomphalos, an important differential diagnosis. Gastroschisis is usually diagnosed prenatally using ultrasound examination. The prevalence is increasing worldwide from approximately 0.1 per 10,000 total births in the 1970s to over 5 in the early 2000s. The reasons for this are unknown, but factors such as maternal smoking, recreational drugs and young maternal age are strongly associated with the defect. The increasing prevalence is causing concern because the cost of treating gastroschisis is high. Neonatal morbidity depends on significant complicating factors such as bowel atresia or necrosis and prolonged post-operative ileus. Foetuses with gastroschisis are more likely to be born premature and with intra-uterine growth restriction, both of which contribute to the morbidity. Gastroschisis requires early surgery after birth, often followed by prolonged neonatal care. However, advances in surgical and post-operative care in the last decade have meant that currently 90% of affected neonates survive, with few long-term problems.

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