Defining and predicting ‘intrauterine fetal renal failure’ in congenital lower urinary tract obstruction
OBJECTIVE To report the experience with fetal cystoscopy and laser fulguration of posterior urethral values (PUV) for severe lower urinary tract obstruction (LUTO). METHODS Between July 2006 and December 2008, fetal cystoscopy was offered to 23 patients whose fetuses presented with severe LUTO, favorable urinary analysis and gestational age <26 weeks. Fetal urinary biochemistry was evaluated before and after cystoscopy. All infants were followed 6-12 months after birth. Abnormal renal function was defined when serum creatinine higher than 50 micromol/L (2 Standard Deviation) or the necessity of dialysis or renal transplantation. Autopsy was always performed whenever fetal or neonatal deaths occurred. RESULTS Eleven patients decided to undergo fetal therapy and 12 elected to continue with expectant observation. There was no difference between both groups in gestation age at diagnosis and referral examinations. Urethral atresia was diagnosed in 4/11 (36.4%) fetuses by fetal cystoscopy. At 26 weeks, fetuses that were managed expectantly presented with worse urinary biochemistry results (p < 0.05). Survival rates and percentage of infants with normal renal function were significantly higher in the cystoscopic group than in the expectant group (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS Percutaneous fetal cystoscopy is feasible using a thinner special cannula for prenatal diagnosis and therapy of LUTO. Prenatal laser ablation of the PUV under cystoscopy may prevent renal function deterioration improving postnatal outcome.