Fetoscopy

Related procedures:

Related conditions:


What is fetoscopy?

Fetoscopy is a surgical procedure in which a tiny telescopic camera is introduced into the uterus and the amniotic sac through a small incision in the mother’s abdomen. The camera is inserted under ultrasound guidance and is only 1-2 mm in width. Once the camera is inserted, the surgeon can see the fetus, the placenta and the inside of the womb on a television screen. Alongside the camera, the surgeon can insert different small instruments, such as a laser fiber that releases heat energy, catheters, needles, special balloons etc.

Fetoscopy is typically performed in an operating room. The procedure is usually done under local anaesthesia (freezing injected into the skin). The mother also receives medication intravenously (IV) to be relaxed during the intervention, but does not sleep during the procedure, and IV antibiotics. We ask mothers to fast (i.e. NOTHING to eat or drink) for at least 8 hours prior to the procedure. For some procedures, the fetus will also receive medication prior to the intervention to prevent it from moving or feeling pain.

Fetoscopy is usually done in an inpatient setting. This means that the mother will stay in the hospital overnight after the procedure. 

What conditions are fetoscopies done for?

Fetoscopies can be done for a wide range of conditions. The more common indications are twin-twin transfusion syndrome, severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia or lower urinary tract obstruction.

What are the risks of a fetoscopy for the pregnancy?

The main risks of fetoscopy are breaking the water early (PPROM: preterm premature rupture of membranes) and preterm delivery. In an attempt to decrease these risks, medications are usually administered to prevent uterine contractions (tocolysis). After fetoscopy, the average gestational age at delivery is 34-35 weeks.  Depending on the reason for fetoscopy, additional risks may be present. These are discussed under the different fetal anomalies.

What are the risks of a fetoscopy for the mother?

The risks of fetoscopy for the mother are small. The main risks are infection and bleeding from the incision site.  Antibiotics are administered preventatively prior to the procedure to prevent infection. Fetoscopy does not permanently damage the uterus. A previous fetoscopy is not a reason in itself to deliver by caesarean section. Fetoscopy does not affect a mother’s long-term health or her future fertility.

Special Pregnancy Program

Referrals »

Fetal Medicine: 416-586-4800 x 7756
Fax: 416-586-3216

Maternal Medicine: 416-586-4800 x 7000
Fax: 416-586-5109

Main clinic hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm

Prenatal Diagnosis & Medical Genetics

Referrals »

phone: 416-586-4800 x 4523
fax numbers:
416-586-4723 or 416-586-8384

Perinatal Mental Health

Referrals »

Phone: 416-586-4800 x 8325
Fax: 416-586-8596