Keyhole Surgeons Save Babies in the Womb

A PIONEERING new form of keyhole surgery will be used to save the lives of dozens of unborn babies every year, Scotland on Sunday can reveal. The remarkable technique involves a ‘fetoscope’ about the width of three grains of sugar which is used to internally examine babies while they are still in the womb. The resulting images will allow Scottish doctors to perform surgical and other procedures on fetuses – many of whom would otherwise die – from as little as 24 weeks’ gestation. At this point, the fetus would fit in the palm of an adult man’s hand and probably only just be opening its eyes. Operations using the £70,000 fetoscope will be performed by a team of experts at Scotland’s national centre for diagnosing and treating pregnancy complications, the Department of Fetal Medicine at the Queen Mother’s Hospital, Yorkhill, Glasgow. The development, which makes the Glasgow centre the only one outside London to carry out the procedures, has been hailed by birth charities as “amazing”. One new procedure will correct abnormalities in the placenta that occur in twin pregnancies and result in one twin taking all the blood supply. Using the new scope and a laser, it will be possible to separate the blood vessels. Dr Alan Cameron, a consultant in fetal medicine at the hospital, said: “We can diagnose and treat problems from a very early stage to late in pregnancy and we have been at the forefront of some tests and techniques. “Fetoscopy is keyhole surgery using fibre optics to look at the baby directly. We have already bought the equipment to carry out the...