Transabdominal thin-gauge embryofetoscopy: A technique for early prenatal diagnosis and its use in the diagnosis of a case of Meckel-Gruber syndrome

Rubén A. Quintero, Alfred Abuhamad, John C. Hobbins, Maurice J. Mahoney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Objective: Our aim was to develop and evaluate a transabdominal endoscopic technique to visualize the embryo or fetus with thin-gauge needles and submillimetric fiberoptic endoscopes. Methods: Under ultrasonographic guidance, an 18- or 19-gauge thin-wall needle was introduced into the uterus of 26 patients undergoing first-trimester or early second-trimester termination of pregnancy. A 0.7 mm endoscope was threaded through the lumen of the needle after removal of the stylet. Visualization of the embryo-fetus was attempted before 14 weeks' gestation (n = 20). From 16 to 20 weeks (n = 8), the needle and endoscope were directed to the placental insertion of the umbilical cord, and a cordocentesis was performed. Results: Excellent visualization of the surface anatomy of fetuses from 7 to 13 weeks was obtained in 65% of cases (17/20). A diagnosis of Meckel-Gruber syndrome was made at 11 weeks' menstrual age by visualizing postaxial polydactyly and an occipital encephalocele. Endoscopically assisted cordocentesis allowed visualization of the lumen of the umbilical vein and of the blood flow within it. Conclusion: Endoscopic visualization of the embryo or fetus can be performed transabdominally in the first trimester with small needle-delivered endoscopes. This represents a clear advantage over previous endoscopic approaches to the human pregnancy. Potential applications of this technique include a precise description of fetal anatomy and physiologic features, diagnosis of anomalies, and therapeutic fetal interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1552-1557
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993



  • endoscopy
  • fetoscopy
  • prenatal diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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