Fetal diagnosis and therapy vol:14 issue:2 pages:118-21
OBJECTIVE: To develop a small animal model for fetoscopy. METHODS: In 12 time-dated pregnant rabbits at 22 days' gestational age (term 32 days) one amniotic sac in each uterine horn (n = 24) was used for a fetoscopic procedure. After laparotomy, a 2- to 3-mm microsurgical myometrial incision was made to expose the chorionic and amniotic membrane. Under microscopic control, a 2-mm needle was inserted into the amniotic sac. Through this a 1.2-mm endoscope was passed to carry out fetoscopy during maximally 10 min, using 5-10 ml saline amnioinfusion. Mean outcome measurements were ability to visualize the placenta, umbilical cord and the different fetal elements during fetoscopy, as well as fetal survival and weight at second-look operation at 30 days. The untreated amniotic sacs served as negative controls. RESULTS: In all cases, fetoscopy could be carried out successfully, and all fetuses survived till delivery without significant influence on fetal birth weight. CONCLUSION: The midgestational rabbit can be used to perform fetoscopy.