New technical brief covers surgeries for seven fetal conditions

Research Activities, May 2011, No. 369

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a new technical brief covering surgeries for seven fetal conditions, from heart defects to spina bifida. This Federal report, authored by researchers at the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center, is entitled Maternal-Fetal Surgical Procedures: Technical Brief. It indicates that although fetal surgery research is advancing quickly, it presently falls short of the level of rigor required to optimally inform care. Key findings include:

  • Work is needed in determining diagnostic approaches; delineating which fetuses would benefit from treatment in utero; and projecting long-term functioning for the target organ as well as overall functioning as prenatally treated infants develop.
  • As in many new surgical interventions, preliminary work for fetal surgery is based in a few highly specialized centers laying the groundwork for better understanding and directions for research.
  • Despite gaps in the maternal-fetal surgery literature, there is momentum toward more robust research and rigorous, more consistent documentation of outcomes over longer periods of time.

The EHC Program, authorized by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 1999, represents an important Federal effort to compare alternative treatments for health conditions and make the findings public. The program is intended to help patients, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others choose the most effective treatments. Additional pregnancy-related resources on the Effective Health Care Program Web site include Gestational Diabetes: Caring for Women During and After Pregnancy and Elective Induction of Labor Safety and Harms.

Current as of May 2011
Internet Citation: New technical brief covers surgeries for seven fetal conditions: Research Activities, May 2011, No. 369. May 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/may11/0511RA25.html