Amniotic Band Syndrome

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Amniotic band syndrome (ABS) is a rare birth defect in which bands of tissue inside the sac of fluid that surrounds a baby in the womb tangle around the baby’s body causing injury. This condition is caused by a rupture in the sac (amnion), which occurs randomly and is not related to anything a mom did or did not do during pregnancy.

If left untreated, the amniotic bands wrap tighter around the affected limbs or body parts, which can lead to limb deformity or amputation, webbed toes or fingers, or defects of the head, face, or spine.

If your baby has been diagnosed with amniotic band syndrome, we understand the worry and anxiety you may have. Our leading team of specialists at the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon St. Louis Fetal Care Institute are uniquely equipped to help you and your baby. Working with a multidisciplinary team of fetal surgeons, pediatric doctors and nurses, we comprehensively monitor and treat this condition, using the safest techniques to treat your child before or after delivery.

Fetoscopic surgery is an innovative option to treat this condition. It utilizes a small camera or scope to examine and perform procedures on your baby during pregnancy.  In almost all cases, the babies we treat for ABS experience excellent results, and go on to develop normally.

How Is ABS Diagnosed?

A routine ultrasound usually detects ABS between week 12 and 18 of pregnancy. If your doctor suspects this condition, they will perform a follow-up ultrasound to examine your baby for other abnormalities. A doppler ultrasound test is then used to measure how severely the blood flow is restricted by the tightening bands. These test will determine the extent of the ABS and the best course of treatment for you and your baby.

How is ABS Managed and Treated During Pregnancy?

At the Cardinal Glennon St. Louis Fetal Care Institute, we examine each case of ABS closely to confirm that the condition is actually ABS, and not a uterine fold. If we find an amniotic band, our team of doctors and nurses focus on the best way to prevent progressive injury.

If the amniotic band is touching an area of your baby but not causing injury or cutting off blood flow, no surgery is necessary. If we find that the amniotic band is impeding blood flow to a limb, entangling the umbilical cord, or threatening to cause a deformity, fetoscopic surgery may be an option.

Fetal Surgery for ABS

During this procedure, the surgeon inserts a pencil-tip-sized scope in the uterus and uses a laser to cut the amniotic band. This procedure immediately reduces the pressure on the affected body part and allows it to develop normally, without any further damage.

Our team of specialists at the Cardinal Glennon St. Louis Fetal Care Institute are here to support you by answering all of your questions, and carefully navigating your through the treatment option that’s right for you and your family.

What Happens After Fetal Surgery?

After fetal surgery, we closely follow you throughout your pregnancy to monitor your baby. Fetal surgery does have risks, including preterm labor, infection and bleeding, but we are able to reduce the risk of these complications with certain medications.

Your baby will be born in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where they will be cared for by our neonatologists and pediatric specialists. After your baby is born, our plastic surgeons and orthopedic specialists will examine the affected limbs and areas of the body to determine if any additional treatment is needed.

In some cases, a baby will need a number of follow-up surgeries to improve the appearance and function of the affected body part.

We understand that amniotic band syndrome can be a scary diagnosis. That’s why we’re available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 314-268-4037 or toll free at 877-SSM-FETL (877-776-3385).

While we can’t change the diagnosis, we can provide you expert care and support, helping your baby get the best start in life.

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