Perinatal management of the fetus with an abdominal wall defect. Fetal therapy Langer, J. C., Harrison, M. R., Adzick, N. S., Longaker, M. T., Crombleholme, T. M., Golbus, M. S., Anderson, R. L., Callen, P. W., Filly, R. A. 1987; 2 (4): 216-221


The antenatal diagnosis of abdominal wall defects has allowed improved perinatal management. For fetuses with associated anomalies, the options of elective termination or minimal intervention can be offered. Our ability to predict the extent of bowel damage in gastroschisis based on the ultrasound findings enables us to offer early delivery to those fetuses who are at high risk. The data are not clear at the present time whether cesarean section offers any advantage. These fetuses should, however, be delivered at a center which is capable of providing high level medical and surgical care to these potentially ill infants. Initial resuscitation of these neonates requires early insertion of an intravenous line and a nasogastric tube, the administration of antibiotics, sterile coverage of the eviscerated bowel, and careful attention to temperature instability. Neonates with gastroschisis should be operated on as soon as they are stable, whereas infants with omphalocele can be investigated for associated anomalies prior to surgery. Primary fascial closure is performed whenever possible. Where this is not possible, a staged repair using a silastic chimney achieves closure within 3-6 days. Skin coverage alone or nonoperative management is reserved for the few cases with giant omphalocele, associated anomalies, or poor operative risk. Decisions about primary versus delayed closure, while usually dictated by clinical judgement, can be aided by indirect measurement of intraabdominal pressure. Postoperative ventilation, and consideration of long-term nutritional needs, are also important parts of the perioperative management.

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