Research: New challenges of fetal therapy in Japan

J Obstet Gynaecol Res

. 2022 Jun 8.

 doi: 10.1111/jog.15320. Online ahead of print.

New challenges of fetal therapy in Japan

Seiji Wada 1Katsusuke Ozawa 1Haruhiko Sago 1

Affiliations expand


Aim: To review new challenges of fetal therapy in Japan after the establishment of four existing fetal therapies as standard prenatal care with National Health Insurance coverage over the past 20 years.

Methods: Reported studies and our current research activities related to four fetal therapies newly performed in Japan were reviewed.

Results: Fetoscopic endoluminal tracheal occlusion (FETO) for congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) aims to occlude the trachea using a detachable balloon to promote lung growth. Following the recent successful completion of an international randomized controlled trial for CDH, in which we participated, FETO is offered for severe left CDH to perform balloon insertion at 27-29 weeks and removal at 34 weeks of gestation. Fetal cystoscopy (FC) for low urinary tract obstruction was introduced to overcome the demerits of vesicoamniotic shunting. FC may provide a proper diagnosis by visual observation of the urethra and physiological treatment of the posterior urethral valve. The effectiveness of open fetal surgery for myelomeningocele (MMC), direct surgery with laparotomy and hysterotomy, for ameliorating hindbrain herniation and the motor function was demonstrated, but it was also associated with substantial maternal and fetal risks. Fetal aortic valvuloplasty (FAV), ultrasound-guided fetal aortic balloon dilation for critical aortic stenosis with evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome may improve left heart development and maintain biventricular circulation. Feasibility and safety studies for FC, MMC open fetal surgery, and FAV are currently ongoing.

Conclusions: Clinical research on FETO, FC, MMC open fetal surgery, and FAV has proceeded with careful preparations in Japan.

Keywords: congenital diaphragmatic hernia; critical aortic stenosis; fetal therapy; low urinary tract obstruction; myelomeningocele.

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